For the twenty years I’ve lived in my home, I assumed the trees in my backyard are some variety of maple based on the shape of the leaves and their brilliant fall color. Only recently did I realize that they are instead American sweetgum. This is rather amusing considering my yard is scattered with their brown spiny seedpods.
I noticed birds picking at the seedpods a few days ago. Apparently, they provide quite the buffet. That’s when I realized the seedpods were hanging from my maple imposters. All these years, I thought those brown balls were just wandering over from my neighbor’s yard.
Curiosity got the better of me, so I did a bit of research. First, I was perplexed when I found that you can purchase these same seedpods online. Pinterest has several uses for them. There is quite a demand for something I consider yard trash.
More importantly, I learned that the seeds found in these pods contain shikimic acid—one ingredient in the prescription antiviral Tamilfu. As a pharmacist, I find that fascinating. What I consider a nuisance is loaded with healing potential. The sap from this same tree is thought to have antiseptic and antifungal properties as well.
My newfound discovery makes me wonder what other things in life are right in front of me that I’ve underestimated and underappreciated. As creatures with our own prejudices, I think we often fail to see the hidden potential in things (and people) unless we are forced to. Some people readily see the positive in everything. Still, for most of us, it takes a bit of work.
Gardening has taught me that there is usually far more to everything than I can physically see. In these challenging times, let us seek to find the hidden potential in all of us.
Devotional prompt: The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord raises those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous. Psalms 146:8 NKJV