ORRIN MORRIS: Bitter cress provides a horse radish flavor in salads, greens

To most Christians, Lent is a solemn journey of contemplation of God's love ultimately expressed in the culmination of the season.

The contemplation begins with the awareness of our unworthiness because all of us are sinners (Romans 3:23). All of us have fallen short of who we should be; in fact, the "best" among us have nothing to offer apart from the grace of God.

The Lenten journey involves self-examination and renewed determination to be the Christlike people we know we should be. This is not a time to be critical of others' sinfulness, but to look honestly at our own attitudes and behavior.

As spring emerges, the chickweeds spring up in our lawns and gardens. They are like sins in our life. They appear in the most inappropriate places.

We often ask why are there such weeds; however, more important than the "why" is the awareness that God is loving, even in His punishment (Gen. 3:18).

Like chickweed, the leaves of today's wildflower could be eaten in salads or cooked like greens. (For you new arrivals to the South, "greens" are any leafy plant that is cooked, such as spinach.)BITTER CRESS

Cardamine parvifloraThe bitter cress is another pest in most lawns, just like chickweed and dandelions. It reproduces rapidly and, unless mowed, reaches 10 to 14 inches.

The white trumpet-shaped blooms are very small and have four lobes that look like petals. The pea-green multi-stemmed plant has many branches. The flowers form at the end of the branch, but by the time the blossom opens, the nearby branches have grown higher, giving the impression that the blooms form along the stem.

Sometimes, what appears to be extensions of the branch are actually seed pods. Note the elongated pods that branch out around the bloom in the sketch.

The plant has few leaves compared to the many branches. They come in two different patterns as noted.

The plant is prized for its horseradish flavor when mixed in salads or used as a seasoning in greens.

May the grievous self-examination of the destructive pests (sins) that are honestly faced in the journey through Lent end in the nourishing celebration of Easter.

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.