When I was a child in the 1930s living in Nebraska, we learned to cope with the Great Depression plus the extended drought of the Dust Bowl days. Those years were very difficult, and we survivors may “bore you to death” as we recount the things we did without.
Now we are going through another period of severe decline, officially beginning in February. Some say the pandemic is declining, but “the recovery” is so very slow. Many of our neighbors are suffering from unemployment and under-employment. What makes this even more difficult is that the population has shifted from rural to urban settings. In the Great Depression, we who were rural were able to raise much of our own food, but not so today.
I believe there is much to learn in hard times about God’s love. First, it can foster a spirit of understanding regarding the billions of people around the globe who have never had an adequate supply of food and clean water. Second, to be a true “conservative” should means stewardship of natural resources rather than political or economic rhetoric. Third, we who are wealthy by global standards may come to recognize the truth of the First Beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
When teaching art, I always begin by making a distinction between looking and seeing, between a glance and thoughtfully observing the details. For many years the abundance of the camphor weed (a pest) made it difficult for me to see the presence of the golden asters that grace our roadsides.
MARYLAND GOLDEN ASTER Hibiscus militaris
The bloom of the Maryland golden aster measures from 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches across. Its rays (petals) are similar in shape to the more abundant camphor weed.
Another characteristic that distinguishes the golden aster from the camphor weed is the shape and size of its leaves. golden aster leaves range from 1 to 3 inches with the longer ones toward the bottom of the 18- to 30-inch stem. camphor weed leaves are longer and broader with a rounded tip, and they are crinkled. Golden aster leaves are narrower and pointed at the tip. Both leaves attach directly to the stem, but camphor weed stands much taller.
In hard times as in good times, may we have the grace of seeing ourselves as we really are: what we value, what we expect as our rights or privileges, how we interact with less fortunate people, and many other attitudes that reflect who we are becoming.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).