My partner, Marlene, was thrilled to see her first trillium (Ontario’s provincial flower) while we hiked the Peck Lake Trail in Algonquin Provincial Park during late May of this year. When we holiday in my home province, we usually travel during the fall season, but this year we were able to visit in the spring.
We are now back home in Alberta, where Marlene has lived all her life and I have resided for almost 40 years. We enjoy the wild prairie roses (Alberta’s provincial flower) along the walking paths south of our home and in Banff National Park just west of us. Trillium and wild rose—both speak to me in a special way at this stage of my life. At one time I would have paid little attention to them, but that has changed.
Marlene teaches me a lot about horticulture. In this case, she tells me that while trilliums are plants, wild roses are shrubs. Both are wildflowers, and no human sows them. They are nature’s gift to us. Each grows in specific locations and distinct settings, thriving in different conditions.
Interestingly, if we live primarily in one part of our country, we are inclined to ignore the flowers nearby, which become so familiar we may not really see them. But when we go to another part of our beautiful land, we may be surprised by what we discover.
Marlene was ecstatic with her find this year, but it was one of the highlights for me as well. I reflected on how modern travel helps us to enjoy both of these distinct wild flowers—even if we may never find them naturally existing side by side. But why must these flowers remain separate and distinct?
I thought about modern tendencies to inclusivity and of how separate entities seem to merge, enriching the whole. I wondered how readers from other parts of Canada—and the world, for that matter—might experience my trillium/wild rose image in their own particular circumstances?
Conversely, I reflected on “the beauty of difference” and the modern desire many have to seek out new people, places and natural beauty beyond, as well as closer to home. Inclusivity is important, but also respect for difference.
Images from nature, like trilliums and wild roses, provide Christians in our nation with new ways of thinking and understanding our lives.
In I Corinthians 12, St. Paul invokes such themes when he writes about their communities in Christ. “There are many different gifts to be found among us,” he says, “but always the same spirit.” Particular manifestations of the spirit can be used for the common good. “For as with the human body which is a unity, although it has many parts—all the parts of the body, though many, still make up one single body —so it is with Christ…
“Each part may be equally concerned for all the others…Now Christ’s body is yourselves, and each of you has a part to play in the whole.”