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ORRIN MORRIS: Greenbrier vines a metaphor for our own entangled lives

Is there a fundamental difference between humans and animals? Or is life for both merely a struggle to survive from birth through maturity, then death? One who observes the American culture might ask, "Is money the final measure of a person's worth?"

For many people to achieve whatever is their measure of success, life is a struggle with anger, jealousy, envy, failure, lust, greed, deception, unfaithfulness, dishonesty and so on. An encounter with the wildflower featured here reminds me of the entangled lives of many people we grieve with and pray for.GREENBRIER

Smilax rotundifoliaFew of us have seen the blooms of the greenbrier. They are very small, measuring about inch, and occur in clusters of six to eight blooms in the spring. In the fall, hard black "berries" appear. I put berries in quotes because they are not edible and the black coat that covers the seeds is thin. Nevertheless, birds seem to thrive on them.

Greenbrier is an evergreen plant that climbs to great heights when unattended. I have seen them in cedar trees 40 feet tall. Their favorite habitat is the edges of woods, but birds deposit seed wherever they perch, especially along fence and hedge rows. Thus greenbrier has become an invasive plant that spreads with few if any enemies to help control its spread.

The vine of the greenbrier is covered with razor sharp thorns. Sometimes you can pull up horse nettle without gloves, but when it comes to dealing with greenbrier you need leather gloves and a spade. The vines grow from a large and very tough rhizome well anchored by an extensive root system.

Greenbrier is also known as catbrier, probably because it feels like a cat scratch when you accidentally brush against a thorn. The stem is light green and the leaves are thick and deep green.

Is human life merely a speck of dust in the universe? No. In God's sight we are the reason for the coming of the Christ Child. God sees the entangled plight many people have chosen in their struggle to survive and succeed.

The good news is that He seeks to intervene to provide hope, peace, joy and redemption. That's what the birth, maturity and death of Jesus is all about.

But there is one other essential element: it is that the power of the Almighty Father to raise His Son from death is the same power that can change our attitudes, behaviors, and spirits, and then open eternity to us.

As we celebrate the last few days of May, allow the truth of John 3:17 to refresh your spirit, "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved."

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.