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Weed or Hot House Flower 

By February 27, 2024February 29th, 2024No Comments

Meditation shared with CCIW Staff by Rev. Dr. Beth Rupe

February 22, 2024

The Dandelion 

Photo by Daphne Richard on UnspashAs  spring approaches, let us turn our attention to the upcoming gardening season. In beginning to make plans for my bare landscape, I have been reading gardening websites and joining Facebook gardening pages. In doing this I have been reminded of a couple of things. First, timing is important. While I and others may be eager to get started it is important not to rush the season by cleaning out garden beds to early. Last years’ plants and fallen leaves provide valuable habitat for caterpillars, pollinators and other creatures that might fall to thrive if left exposed. Wait until the temperature overnight is consistently about 50 degrees before cleaning out your beds. Second, remember that while dandelions have a bad reputation, these maligned flowers (weeds) provide an early food source for pollinators which are essential in maintaining the human and animal food chain. 

So, let’s focus on dandelions. 

The name itself comes from the French meaning “lion’s teeth.” These sharp toothed flowers are an exceptionally valuable plant. Every part of the dandelion is  edible. Dandelion greens are excellent source of vitamins A, C, K, E, folate and traces of B vitamins . The plant also provides antioxidants including beta carotene  and fiber that support growth of healthy bacteria in the intestine. Dandelions can be consumed as a caffeine-free coffee, tea, and wine or in dishes such as dandelion quiche, salads, and even ice cream. In addition to food dandelions are and have been used as herbal remedies for ailments as diverse as arthritis and depression as well as helping maintain blood glucose and reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels 

While today, homeowners use more pesticides to eliminate dandelions than farmers use to eliminate weeds on their crops, the dandelion has a long history of being appreciated. References to dandelions are found in  Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome and the early Chinese dynasties. Dandelions were brought to America on the Mayflower because of its medical purpose as they could be used in the treatment of scurvy. At one time,  colonial gardeners removed grass to make room to cultivate dandelions. While pesticides used to remove dandelions potentially kill birds and pollinators, dandelions are good for the lawn. Their wide spreading roots loosen hard packed soil, aerate the earth, and prevent erosion while acting as a natural fertilizer. 

And who has not, blown the tiny flowers of the dandelion into the wind. Legend tells us that after releasing the seeds upon the wind,  the number of attached seeds will predict how many years until one is  married or depending or if you are childbearing age when you blow the seeds how many children you will have. Finally, what fun to catch a seed from the air and make a wish upon the dandelion.  

Botanists consider the dandelion one of the most  successful plants on earth. It is found on most continents and is a  masters of worldwide survival, It is a plant  that is difficult to suppress and that regenerates easily. 

All of this and we consider the dandelion a weed. 

Turning to scripture, we find that Jesus compares faith and the kingdom of God to a weed. While it is not the dandelion, Jesus speaks of another weed, the mustard seed.   

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you”  ~Matthew 17: 20  

Unlike Jesus, many today tend to treat the church as a hothouse plant rather than a weed. A hothouse plant is generally an exotic plant from a warmer climate and that must be grown in greenhouse as it will not survive in nature. It needs special care and attention. Weeds on the other hand  are wild plants growing where it is not wanted. Weed often compete with cultivated plants. Weeds are generally known for vigorous growth even when unattended. 

So, I would propose that we consider the dandelion, as a sign of the kin-dom of God. Consider how this plant with different varieties and species provide valuable lessons about the true nature of the church. Consider it as a source of nourishment, a balm for what ails body and spirit. Consider its humble nature.  Consider it resiliency and vitality. And, finally consider that as we cultivate this weed it may choke out other things cultivated by our society. It may choke out systematically valued plants – racism, misogyny and the patriarchy, caste systems, class systems that place people on hierarchies, the status quo which includes some and excludes many, and many, many more.

Written by 

Rev. Dr. Beth Rupe

Coordinator CCIW Disciples Women’s Ministries