On a recent trip to Iceland, I saw these yellow flowers growing happily side by side, growing right out of hardened lava, no less. Neither seemed to know that one was regarded as a weed, while the other was viewed as a beautiful flower.
I was in Berlin one Sunday on this same trip, riding the S-Bahn from the LDS chapel after Sacrament Meeting to the bus station to meet my two cousins for our journey onward to Prague. There were five or six of us quietly seated in the train car when a man boarded with a green sign in his hands. He was stooped over so far that you couldn’t see his face. He held up his illegible sign, mumbled something unintelligible to the floor, then proceeded to stand in front of each passenger, clearly hoping for a handout. No one looked at him. No one said a thing. He might as well have been invisible, as everyone studiously avoided even recognizing his presence. I have done the same thing. But this time, I watched him patiently move from person to person, each immobile and silent, until he stood before me. I don’t know what was different about this beggar, but my heart melted for him. My unbidden thought was, “This is my brother. This is my brother.” I wasn’t trying to convince myself; the thought came straight from Spirit. So I fished out my wallet to give him some money. I had forgotten that I only had one €20 bill left. No change. No smaller bills. I had saved it for my last needs before departing Germany. I hesitated for just a fraction of a second, folded it up and put it in his hand.
He looked up at me then. Looked straight at me, straight into me. His eyes were a clear lake blue. He held my gaze for a long, long moment and in that moment, something happened between us. I have no words adequate to describe the energy, the light, the spirit that vibrated between us — our souls channeled through our eyes. He smiled slightly, then turned and exited the train car. I was still stunned by what had just happened, so didn’t turn to see where he’d gone for half a minute. When I finally turned to look for him on the platform, he was nowhere to be seen. The quiet thought came like mist, “Maybe he was an angel.”
Just today, as I was sitting on an airplane headed to Philadelphia, a young man came down the aisle, clearly headed for the empty seat beside me. He was somewhat disheveled — long hair, wrinkled worn clothes —and he carried a skateboard in his hand. I could smell him from a few rows away. “No! No! Don’t sit here!” was my uncharitable thought. When he sat down beside me, I greeted him warmly — an effort at repentance. During our short flight, I learned he was coming home after two and a half years in California. His mother was meeting him at the airport. “I am so excited!” he kept repeating. “Well, I promise you, she is twice as excited,” I said. I watched him while his eyes were closed. He had a beautiful face, smooth skin, lovely hands. I had judged him a weed, but he was in fact a gorgeous flower.
Are there, in fact, ANY weedy people? If so, how do you discern the weeds from the flowers? If not, how do you find the beauty behind the weedy masks?
Originally published on Segullah.org by Lisa G., mother to six and grandmother to ten. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and loves traveling, reading, napping in puddles of sun, strawberries and dark chocolate, and most of all, Jesus.