George A. Bowers Sr.: The moral of the morel
Although it may have taken a little longer than some of us had hoped, it seems that spring has finally sprung. The trees are blooming, the turkeys are gobbling and the grass is growing. For all of its beauty, color, and newness, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t like springtime.
Another annual benefit of April is the mushroom. Many gunless hunters are combing the woods these days in search of the ever-elusive wild morel. These honeycomb like growths are commonly found in damp areas beneath ash and poplar trees but are exceptionally good at camouflaging their appearance so as to evade even the most experienced collector. They enjoy hiding among the dead leaves in an effort to remain wild and free.
Specimens of this particular variety of fungi are highly prized for their delicious taste and excellent texture. Although they can be prepared in an assortment of recipes, a local favorite is simply to slice, flour and fry them. These tasty treats are gracing a growing number of valley tables this spring season.
Morels, of course, are only one kind of edible mushroom and the produce sections of grocery stores include several others that can be added to salads, pizzas, hamburgers, or a host of other entrees. The mushroom’s flexibility has made it a popular addition to many dishes and meals.
Like all fungi, most mushrooms grow from dead and decaying organic matter. Leaves, logs, roots, and even manure are all substrates that produce a wide variety of these odd looking structures. Their appearances vary widely from the plain and non-descript to the highly colorful. In God’s great scheme, we can be very thankful that he designed these crafty recyclers to repurpose dead and decaying plant and vegetable matter into something very useful. The fungi family does us, and all of creation, a great service.
The ability of a mushroom to thrive on what we would call waste material illustrates a deep spiritual truth. Many circumstances in life that we might consider negative may produce incredibly beneficial results. God is the first and greatest recycler in taking our garbage and turning it into glory for both his good and ours. Romans 8:28 describes how he is able to work all things together for good for those who love him and who are called according to his purpose. Most believers can identify specific situations in their lives that illustrate this truth powerfully. God is able to transform our pain and suffering, and even our past sin, into something beneficial if we allow him to do so.
And this points to another lesson we can learn from the fungi. Even though morels are tasty, some other species of mushrooms are deadly poisonous. Just a small bite can trigger an intense illness or even death. It is apparent that decaying matter can produce either good or bad ‘shrooms. So too, we can allow God to work through the hard times in our lives to make us more like Jesus, or we can allow them to make us toxically bitter and cynical. Which will it be: bitter or better?
As we marvel at the mushrooms springing up all around us this month, may they remind us of God’s ability to bring good from bad. And may we invite him to do exactly that with the difficult struggles in our lives. Blessings, George
George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of seven books including his latest book of poetry, “Holy Verses.” He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.