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  • Writer's pictureBecky Proctor

How Beautiful - Ouch!

Bougainvillea seemed like a good idea. I’d never had one before but had always admired them from a distance.

At the mini park up the street, their fuchsia flowers hung over a neighbor’s wooden fence in great waves and they climbed a palm tree in another neighbor's yard, seeming to celebrate the beautiful weather of central Florida.

So bougainvillea seemed like a good idea for the fence bordering our back yard. Waist-high and set in concrete, the fence was strong and sturdy, more than able to support the burgeoning blossom-covered branches I anticipated.

Planting them was easy. Dig a hole, loosen the soil, add amendments, water in and feed. They settled in quickly and began to grow and I became preoccupied with other projects and sort of forgot about them.

No one even mentioned the thorns.

Well, I take that back.

A couple people may have mentioned them, but I didn’t take them seriously.

Not that I did not believe their reports that bougainvillea thorns can puncture a basketball. Or that they are nearly impossible to control because their spike-like defense again pruning shears and anyone daring to wield them.

Really, I just wasn’t thinking.

I was seduced by the surreal beauty of the bougainvillea, dreaming of the spectacular display that would greet me each time I looked out my window. My heart sang in anticipation.

To make a long story short, I had a personal encounter with the thorny bougainvillea, then did a little research and found that not only are the thorns brutally sharp, but they are covered with a toxin that can cause contact dermatitis. (My skin itches just typing that word.)

Therein ended the existence of bougainvillea in our landscape. They were uprooted and disposed of posthaste.

There are so many spiritual messages for me in this story.

Perhaps, for you, too.

The desire to possess something, thinking it will produce happiness.

The seduction of worldly beauty, or the illusion thereof.

The sin of pride, having been advised of the danger but planting one anyway.

It might be a stretch, but that plant reminds me of harboring unconfessed sin. Keeping that beautiful yet harmful plant was dangerous. It was capable of inflicting pain and injury. On me and on others.

Exorcising it from our property was my solution and I heaved a sigh of relief. Lesson learned.

I love how God speaks to us in everyday circumstances and experiences. He's cool like.

Now I realize why those bougainvillea bushes are cascading over my neighbor’s fence and into the mini park. They have devoured the fence and are heading for the sidewalk!

Holy God, I love finding You in my surroundings, be it

the natural landscape or Your people. Make me aware of my sin, so that I may confess to You and receive Your grace, in the name of Our Savior. Amen.

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