I love dandelions. The dandelion is, in fact, my favorite flower. It’s soft, vibrant yellow bloom tells me when spring has officially arrived in the mid-west. I love dandelions. I love roses. Roses are delicate and beautiful and from what I understand, quite a task to grow successfully. That’s probably why they are so expensive. Still, I love roses. Dandelions are soft. Roses have thorns. Dandelions grow plentiful without much effort. Roses are expensive and high maintenance.
I love perfectly cut green lawns. The appearance of a well manicured lawn surrounding the house in the suburbs with a white picket fence is attractive. But, who decided that this would be the standard by which we should all live? Who decided that something as colorful as a dandelion is a weed? Oh how lovely is the dandelion bouquet presented to a mother by her child! The dandelion, to me, will always be a flower.
I married an Atheist. My husband challenges me to think about the basis of my faith in an unseen God. Somehow when people hear the word Atheist, they picture the man who hates God and anyone who believes in God. Mike is kind, compassionate and loving. But somebody, somewhere decided that because he doesn’t share the same Christian belief as me, he would be unkind and critical; that he would move me to the dark side. Please don’t judge my Husband because of his difference in religious belief.
I love Christians. Some might say this is a given because I can identify with the belief system. But, I love Christians because of the differences in our approach to the same text, the Holy Bible. What I see when I read scripture may differ from how other believers understand the Bible. Whether Catholic, Methodist, Baptist or Lutheran, we all believe in the same God. Somehow still, we have differences in how we read and understand this faith. May I never steal from my Catholic friends the reverence they feel when they bow in a most Holy moment to pray with a rosary in hand. After all, who am I to decide?
I love people of color. I have had the palest skin all of my life. As a young girl, when I would see someone with dark skin, I thought they were the most beautiful people on earth. I wanted their skin. I wanted to be dark. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. Today there is an entire industry founded on the principle of making white people darker. Someone decided that being too white was not attractive. But, someone also decided that Black is not beautiful. I have heard a lot of racial slurs in my lifetime. There was a time in my past where I too was guilty of placing stereo types on those who were different than the rural white people that I grew up with.
Some time ago I visited with a friend of mine who is African American. She is a beautiful, intelligent, compassionate young mother. She has a daughter who has carried the thought that the color of her skin makes her much like the dandelion. This young lady was embarrassed to be the darkest one in her family.
You see, when I look at my lily white skin I sometimes think, I wish I had a little more color, but never, ever, do I feel embarrassed to be white. Why? Because nobody in this society has told me that I need to be. The young woman who I spoke of has felt like a dandelion in a world of roses. This should never be.
Dandelions, roses, Christian, Atheist, Black or White. Who are we to decide which, if any, of these are considered weeds?
Each of us was created with our own unique DNA down to the tiniest cell in our bodies. But what would happen if we took time to reach beyond our own fears or pride to learn about people. If we could take time to listen to the stories of people who we see as different, perhaps we would no longer see weeds.
Today I am willing to learn more about people; looking for our common ground instead of hating what is different. I don’t pretend to have perfected the gift of accepting other people, but I hope to remain open and teachable.
How about you?
*Writing & Photography by Amy L. Potts unless otherwise noted.