In the woods on our ridge, autumn comes early. The daisies’ innocent beauty fades; the cone flowers’ vibrant pinks grow pale; the first colored leaves lie scattered on the ground. Soon signs advertising “hardy mums for sale” will dot our surrounding country roads. The halcyon days of summer give way to the hectic pace of school schedules.
Words and their derivations fascinate me, and Stephen Messenger, writing in The Wall Street Journal, provided some information earlier this summer on the naming of flowers. “Like many words in our language, many of the names of flowers hold clues about their history and relationship to us. The daisy, for example, known for its small yellow blossoms, is quite common throughout the world. Daisies are unique in that they close their golden petals during the night and keep them shut, as if in sleep, until the morning. This peculiar characteristic earned this little flower the name ‘day’s eye’ from speakers of Old English. Eventually, that name was compounded into the word daisy.” A less favorite plant, “dandelions also derive their name from their characteristically numerous thick and slender yellow petals. It is not so strange for an imaginative observer to equate the dandelion’s coarse petals to rows of teeth on a well-fanged beast. This comparison explains its French origin dent de lion, or in English “teeth of a lion.” Haven’t we all tried a myriad of treatments in our battle with this lion as it seeks to devour our lawns?
God provides a visual and a linguistic reminder in The Message as it paraphrases Isaiah 40:6-8
“These people are nothing but grass,
their love fragile as wildflowers.
7The grass withers, the wildflowers fade,
if God so much as puffs on them.
Aren’t these people just so much grass?
8True, the grass withers and the wildflowers fade,
but our God’s Word stands firm and forever
So as flowers’ hues fade and summer passes into the yellow leaves of fall, we can remain steadfast, not on the ephemeral elements of the seasons, but on the surety of God’s Word to us.