ORRIN MORRIS: Moss verbena a metaphor for how to find righteousness with God, neighbors

MOSS VERBENA Verbena tenuisecta

MOSS VERBENA Verbena tenuisecta

The diversity of the wildflower kingdom is minor compared to the diversity of humanity. Every individual is unique although he or she dwells within a family, a community or a culture.

The issue we face is learning to live together in an increasingly crowded world that can instantly communicate information. That information may be accurate or erroneous, helpful or destructive, loving or hateful.

According to the U. S. Census Bureau, world population increases about 77 million in 12 months. In only one year, it increases more than the total population of Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas combined.

The highest form of worship is the expression of gratitude for His creativity, for His love, and His grace that redeems us from sin. Not only did Jesus teach us to love God completely but He commanded us "to love our neighbor as ourselves" (Matthew 22:39).

The wildflower for today depicts that important truth; that is, righteousness is both vertical (to God) and horizontal (to our neighbor).MOSS VERBENA

Verbena tenuisectaI first saw moss verbena along Interstate 16 from Macon to Savannah many years ago. Later, I saw it along roadsides in our area. With the severe dry weather, it is not as common as it once was.

It is a native of South America but has transitioned to our climate with ease. It requires full sun and is an excellent drought-tolerant plant.

The normal blooming season is from March through July but mild temperatures may cause it to start early.

The individual moss verbena bloom measures less than -inch across; however, blooms rarely appear as singles but as umbrella-shaped clusters, as pictured.

The plants are a ground cover and rarely grow taller than 18 inches, usually only 8 to 10 inches. When the blooms die, the flower heads need to be clipped off. Thus, a regular mowing by highway maintenance personnel inspires a new burst of blooms throughout the summer.

Most wildflowers are noticed when they stand tall or the blooms are large. Those that have small blooms go unnoticed unless, like the moss verbena, they cluster in blankets.

Our relation to the message of Christ is vertical and horizontal, just like what we notice in the wildflower kingdom.

Some people, attracted by the bright colors of the big blooms. count their rightness with God based on where they attend church (looking vertically). Others count their rightness by being a good neighbor (looking horizontally).

However, when faced with the full message of Christ, we are called to see the immensity of the diverse world population and fall to our knees seeking God's guidance and help to be what He wants us to be, both vertically and horizontally.

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.