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ORRIN MORRIS: Extended drought makes rain lily scarce in metro area

As I reflect on more than 60 years of giving advice as a pastor, a supervisor, a father and a friend, I've erred more times than I want to recount (or admit). Paul put it most succinctly in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

I must admit, I'm not perfect, not even close to the glory of whom God meant for me to be. When we honestly face our shortcomings and failures, we realize the significance of John 3:17 "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might to saved."

God has created us with an inner feeling or voice that acts as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of our behavior. However, God has also given us the freedom of choice. Without that freedom there can be no love.

Motivated by love for you and me God freely sent his Son to show the way of rightness. In loving gratitude we are asked to trust God to save us from our unredeemed self.RAIN LILY

Zephyranthes atamascoThe rain lily may be more commonly known as the Atamasco lily. You're most likely to see this plant at Panola Mountain State Park in southern Rockdale and DeKalb counties. Since it does grow there, it is likely that it could be found elsewhere in the east metro area near our many granite outcroppings and wooded ravines.

You can identify the rain lily by its lily-like bloom. It is usually white, but on occasion it is pinkish. The plant stands 8 to 15 inches tall with thin long leaves that resemble the crocus.

The flower appears to be a true lily; however, two elements are absent. First, there are no leaves on the stalk that holds the bloom. Second, the ovaries are inferior and do not form seed pods like the true lily does.

A third difference can be noted but it is not as prominent as the first two -- the narrowness of the leaves, about one half the width of the true lily.

I would caution you about handling the leaves and bulbs of this wildflower because both contain a toxin that when ingested can be fatal.

Rain lily prefers moist wooded areas. The extended droughts of the last decade may have made it difficult to find these wildflowers anywhere other than Panola Park. If the normal rainfall returns, it may be easier to find this scarce harbinger of spring next year.

In loving gratitude, may we freely praise God for his marvelous grace to save us from our wrongness, our shortcomings and moral failures. Note, I used the plural "we" because I need that grace each day, too.

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 St. in Olde Town Conyers.