Down Nature's Paths



MY FRIEND had a big bed of lilies of the valley along the northwest side of her house. One balmy afternoon, as she went out to work among her plants, she noted joyfully that nearly every leaf in the bed had a spire of white bells beside it.

Soon a summer shower began to approach. Over the hills beyond the Cumberland River marched cloud chariots, preceded by wind scouts and a phalanx of rain bowmen, whose first heavy drops stung almost like arrows. Absorbed in watching the majesty of the storm, my friend did not leave her plants till the downpour began.

As she hurried past the lily bed, she was startled. The flowers had vanished. Only leaves re­mained. A closer look revealed that each leaf stood curled around its flower companion, sheltering it from the storm, preserving its precious pollen till the God-ordained cycle of life could be completed.

Who taught those father leaves to protect their families? How, without ears or eyes, did they know a beating storm was coming? Ah, the love of God is written on every spire of grass, on every leaf and bud and flower. Look in a Canadian garden in early summer, when the universal rhubarb plants are sprouting. Every sturdy stalk comes up wrapped about a smaller stalk, like an older brother protecting a younger. Stand beside a roadside weed and look directly down on its tip. Note how its leaves fan out around the stem with a minimum of overlappage and a maximum of sunlight and air to each leaf.

Trace down the stem, then, and see how this unselfish regard for the rights of each leaf is achieved. No leaf grows exactly above another. The placement of leaves on stems is no blind chance. Indeed, complicated systems of spirals involving intricate mathematical principles of progression are to be found. This is the work of the “Wonderful Numberer." (Daniel 8:13, margin.). "This also cometh forth from the Lord of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working." Isaiah 28:29.

This same principle of loving protection is found in every glade and meadow or garden path. In spring the showy tulip lifts an open cup to the sky, and every shower sweeps the pollen from its anthers. But no life is lost, for the stem is busily growing new bulbs below ground. By contrast, the jack-in-the-pulpit prolongs one side of its cup into a pointed canopy and arches it over the flower spathe, to preserve the pollen and so secure the seeds that perpetuate its kind. Solomon's-seals and the trout lilies hang downward their seeding bells, as do the Indian pipes of late summer. Meadow clovers hide their precious life-perpetuating parts under the butterfly wings of their pea-flower-like blossoms. Hepatica's last year's leaves-tough, woolly, and browned by exposure-blanket this spring's buds. Some tree leaves hang on all winter in order that their enlarged and hollowed stem­bases can shelter their budding successors.

When summer's heat silences the birds and browns the meadows, practically all trees and the delicate flowers have passed their blooming time, and their seeds either have already ripened and been shed, or are growing inside protective fruits. Thus, life is sheltered from destructive heat. The flowering plants of midsummer, except ones like the delicate jewelweed of damp spring banks and bogs, are of woody fiber with tough-textured flowers, able to endure heat and drought.

Through everything with which God deals runs the same law of love and life, and His love will encompass us if we but open our eyes and let our hearts expand.