ORRIN MORRIS: The word 'blessed' is deeper than words like lucky, happy

Salvia coccinea

SCARLETT SAGE Salvia coccinea

In the art of sketching, the ability to see as an artist is very important. A person who is good at sketching will see shapes, values (shadows and highlights), and textures.

The ability to see is important in our spiritual journey, too. In Matthew's account of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (5:8).

The word "blessed" is deeper than words like lucky, happy or fortunate. It implies a contentment amid the chaotic turmoil of our earthly existence. The blessedness has its source in God who judges the purity of our motives and in His grace provides the way of redemption.

The issue is personal. Who among us meets the criterion "pure in heart?" It is my experience that the closer one draws to God through meditation and prayer the more one realizes his or her lack of holiness and purity of heart.

But it is in these times of devotion that our ability to see God is sharpened.

Several weeks ago, as I was walking around a friend's wildflower garden, I saw a small, bright red bloom that looked like it was sticking out its tongue. It is today's wildflower.


Salvia coccinea

The scarlet sage that I observed was partially hidden among the large blooms of black-eyed Susans, purple echinacea and other towering plants. Once my eye caught sight of the brilliant red, I began to look more carefully.

Scarlet sage ranges in height from 12 to 24 inches. The heart-shaped leaves have a pronounced center vein from which the two sides of the leaf curl upward and out, as illustrated. These large leaves that occur in pairs rarely appear more than halfway up the stem. Above that point, the blooms occur.

The flowers of the scarlet sage may appear singly or in whorled clusters of up to eight blooms. The shape is almost identical to that of the bee-balm (Monarda didyma, featured Sept. 19, 2009).

In fact, until discovering the true name, I thought the plant was a variety of monarda. Note the tubular base with two lips on the 1- to 11/4-inch bloom. The upper lip shields the two stamens while the lower lip, with two lobes, droops.

Another common name for this wildflower is tropical sage, more frequently used in Florida. Its primary habitat is sandy soils and thin woods. Therefore, your best chance of seeing this wildflower is near granite outcroppings and areas away from our famous Georgia red clay.

I encourage my students to develop their ability to see as an artist with the admonition to "practice, practice, practice."

The same admonition applies to our spiritual development. Our ability to comprehend (see) God at work in us and about us is enhanced as we practice a life of devotion.

No one is perfect. But my experience has been that God judges the direction of our purpose and reveals Himself accordingly.

Have a good week in your journey closer to God.

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. Notecards are available of the wildflowers published in the Citizen. His email is odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com or call him at 770-929-3697.