Jun 14, 2006

The virtues of chicory

[I'm on a blogging roll today..]

After my two trips to Texas last month, I realized how much I like about Texas. This is another post entirely, which I'll do later.

Having said that, I also realized that I love being out East. The spring brings blooming fruit trees and clusters of daffodils along the roads, and the fall has the gorgeous arrays of changing leaves. It's breathtaking.

Summer also has lots of stuff in bloom, many things which wouldn't grow in my arid hometown of Lubbock unless you spent the kids' inheritance on irrigation. I especially enjoy the June-blooming daylilies under our bedroom window. But I was thinking today about the summer arrival that I most anticipate -- the sudden bouquets of chicory in almost every corner of the city.
Chicory is really beautiful. It has sky-blue flowers that open every day. Its hardy, woody stems grow in nice clusters for good visual effect. And it seems to appear, without fail, just about everywhere. It grows alongside telephone poles, in vacant lots, and in cracks of sidewalk. It's quite the survivor. During a recent city meeting on planting flowers to beautify Lexington for the Equestrian Games, someone stressed the need to plant flowers which would thrive without constant attention, exposed to exhaust fumes and choking dust. I wanted to nominate chicory.

Interestingly, it doesn't do well as a cut flower. Try to bring it home for the vase on your counter, and it just wilts. It needs to be connected to its context, to the stems, to the soil. It wants to stay where it was planted.

There may be some lessons here for the Church. We've become quite adept at planting and nurturing beautiful seeds, which smell nice and undoubtedly bring beauty and grace into the world. The trouble is, so often they require too much work, attention, and care, whch could be going to other things. We need to take our cue, not from dainty blossoms that wilt under the baking sun or wither in the slighest drought, but from this hardy and intrepid pioneer. The Church needs no more hothouse flowers; what it (and the world) needs is bunches of chicory.


billy said...

Very interesting........up until reading your post I never knew what that stuff was......it really is an amazingly hardy and adaptable plant.......your post reminds me of the woman at the Camden House in Camden, New Jersey who filled up a supercharged water gun and went around spraying the wildflower seeds all over the nasty and bleek industrial sights that were all around their home. I've always felt like that one simple act of committing kindness and beauty in a barren place was an amazing example of the power of life and hope. I guess that chicory is also something simple yet profound to hold onto as we drive around encased in metal and glass...and something that could teach us some things.....thanks for sharing and helping to ground us.....

Anonymous said...

A very effective metaphor and message. Thank you Love Mom