ORRIN MORRIS: The plain, weedy sunnybell is a reminder of God's love for us

At a passing glance, our many granite outcrops look like barren waste places. However, as we have discovered in this column, there are many wonders that testify to God's generosity and the diversity of His creation. They also remind us of the barren areas in which John the Baptist lived before appearing at the River Jordan.Isaiah foretold that the coming Messiah would be announced by a wilderness dweller. Isaiah 40:3 reads, "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God."SUNNYBELL

Schoenolirion croceumThe sunnybell is another skinny weedy plant. Like several wildflowers that are found on the granite, there is a rosette of leaves at the base. From that rosette rises a stem that ranges from 10 to 24 inches in height.

Along the upper part of that stem one can find seed pods, flowers and buds all at the same time. Beneath the flowers are the seed pods (of earlier blooms) and above them are the buds that will soon open.

Once the stem reaches its full height the budding ceases, the flowers open, are fertilized, and seeds form. The petals drop and the stem is covered with seed pods.

Soon the plant dies, the seed pods drop and only the barren stems remain as a reminder of the beauty once shared with those who have ventured to examine the wonders of God's creation atop the outcrop.

The blooms measure less than inch. They have six petals and six stamens. Unlike most flowers whose ovaries are under the petals, the ovaries of the sunnybell are the ball-like structure in the center of the bloom with the pistil rising from it, as pictured.

Our large granite outcrops are like a wilderness or the desert mentioned in the passage from Isaiah. When the outcrops are examined closely they often provide stark reminders of our neglect and lack of awareness of their potential beauty.

The sunnybell, as plain and weedy as it is, can be a reminder of God's love and restoration provided to all through His ultimate gift celebrated during the Christmas season.

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. This column is included in a two-volume set of books of wildflower columns he has published. To purchase the books, visit the Nature Seen Gallery & Frame Shop, 914 Center Street in Olde Town Conyers.