Years ago I chased a softball into patch of poison ivy. Ever since, I’ve been looking for it (not the ball but PI) along the edges of wooded areas, in fields, and even among the myrtle of our yard. Haven’t forgotten the weeks of blisters, itch, and discomfort.
Along the way, I’ve appreciated the simple reminder, “leaves of three, let it be…or leaves of three, don’t touch me.” Another I recently ran into is “Hairy vine, no friend of mine.” That might be one to remember in late fall or winter.
As you may know all too well, at times toxicodendron radicans can be a bit tricky to identify. Not only does it have some lookalikes such as the wild blackberry as pictured here, but PI can also have varying colors and appearance depending on the season and growing conditions. Because it can grow as a vine on tree, as ground cover, or even as a bush, seems like I’m always thinking about it whenever I’m off the beaten path.
So why did God create poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac? I don’t know but will take a guess. Could it have anything to do with the fact that our Creator has designed our physical world so that, in many ways, it mirrors the world that we cannot yet see? As trees, sheep, birds, cows, donkeys, clouds, rain, light, and darkness… all have spiritual counterparts– is it possible that poison ivy also has its own message for us? (Sometimes I wonder whether every spiritual truth has a physical counterpart).
Is it possible that “poison ivy” could be whispering just below the threshold of our hearing, “If something as passive as little o’le me can give you so much misery, what about the dangers the Bible talks about?
I’m guessing that someday we’ll look back and say that learning to identify the difference between wild blackberry and poison ivy was nothing compared to “our need to know” the difference between love and lust, hope and false hope, concern and worry, faith and presumption, or flattery and words of encouragement.
Even if the need for such identification and discernment between safe and harmful likenesses has nothing to do with our Maker’s intent… PI has me thinking about the dangerous lookalikes of every good thing…