In one of her essays in Dewdrops on Spiderwebs, Susan Classen tells of visiting two siblings in their mid-fifties, Charles and Molly. Charles and Molly are both learning disabled and living in a rural location, in a house with no running water or plumbing, and surrounded by junk.
But their flower garden caught my eye. I like flowers, so I asked about their garden. Pointing out one of their special flowers, they invited me to touch the soft bristles.
"It's like a powder puff," Charlie said grinning.
"I like the light purplish color," Molly added.
I stood in amazement, humbled by their appreciation of beauty. The flower was a thistle.
"We saw these growing last year in a ditch," Molly continued. "So we waited until the flowers dried, then we gathered the seeds and planted them here."
She offered to send me seeds when this year's blossoms dried. My amazement grew. Surely God "chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise...God chose what is low and despised" (1 Cor 1:27-28). Who says thistles are weeds? p. 29-30
Classen goes on to reflect about personal characteristics that she has defined as weeds to be uprooted rather than flowers to be enjoyed and begins to explore ways these traits can also be seen as something to be appreciated.
She ends with this thought:
I know I'm not alone in sometimes feeling dissatisfied with myself. Perhaps you will find it helpful, as I have, to look for beauty in what you've defined as thistles. How do those characteristics reflect your gifts? p 31.
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"