The heart of the beholder

This week my lovely friends Ian and Vanessa gave me some beautiful peonies cut from their garden. Here’s a close up of a couple in full bloom …


Aren’t they absolutely gorgeous? They are my favourite flower, especially in this particular light pink.

They were too beautiful not to draw and paint so I got my watercolours and acrylics out and completed this spread in my journal.



I found this quote by John Ruskin – though as my 10 year old informed me, flowers are also vital to the life of the planet!
And maybe they aren’t really for us but for the bees whose ultra violet sight would see them in a potentially even more beautiful way.

So whatever the reason for their existence, flowers give much pleasure to many people.

But what about those flowers that aren’t quite so beautiful? Like thistles, or dandelions? Do they pale beside the beauty of the peony or do we appreciate that they have a different kind of beauty?

I was reminded of a story I got from a friend which I have used in church services. The version below is a retelling of an old Sufi story.

A young man named Nasruddin planted a flower garden, but when the flowers came up so did a great crop of dandelions among them. Wanting to eliminate these misfits, Nasruddin consulted with gardeners near and far, but none of their solutions worked.

Finally, Nasruddin traveled to the palace of the sheik to seek the wisdom of the royal gardener himself. But alas, Nasruddin had already tried all the methods the gardener recommended for getting rid of such troublesome weeds.

Silently they sat together for a long time.

At last, the royal gardener looked at Nasruddin and said, “Well then, the only thing I can suggest for these dandelions is that you learn to love them.”

I find this such a powerful metaphor, particularly alongside the beauty of the peonies. It’s easy to love a peony, but its much harder to love a dandelion, particularly when you think they marr your otherwise perfect garden.

And do we sometimes feel like that about people? There are people we find easy to love, and those we find more difficult. And often those we find most difficult crop up in our most perfect places. We might find ourselves thinking … ” if they weren’t around, life would be easier, better, more pleasant ….”.

But the fact is they are there, so instead of comparing our dandelions to peonies, we need to learn to love them as they are, where they are…

As H G Wells said “Beauty is in the HEART of the beholder” – not the eye, as this world would have us believe, but in the heart.

Jesus was asked which of the Ten Commandments was the greatest…

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

So while as Ruskin says, real flowers may bring us solace, so too we must bring solace to the metaphorical dandelions in our lives.


20 thoughts on “The heart of the beholder

  1. Zana says:

    Beautiful, both words and art. I am also reminded that one man ‘s weeds are another’s prized plant. What about the French eating Danelions in their salads!


  2. Faye says:

    A wonderful post! I loved seeing the photo of the peonies but was in awe over the beautiful painting of them. And your life lesson was so beautifully presented.


  3. Mary C. Nasser says:

    Lovely floral artwork, and thank you for sharing that powerful metaphor of the dandelions.
    I do love to paint paper, too! I find it fun and energizing!
    I especially love the effect of your metallics on the deli paper! Wow!
    Happy PPF!!


  4. Corrine says:

    Beautiful rendering of those gorgeous peonies. What a fabulous flower they are. Love the quote too…..I do love the wild weeds, they have a rough beauty and sometimes a scent that is intoxicating. I keep smelling the white clover in my neighbors pasture and loving it. xox


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