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So it all started with a dead pine tree. Our yard is bordered by these giant conifers, and one of them up and died. We had a couple of professional tree loppers (Tree surgeons? Arborists? Lumberjacks? I’m not sure which term they prefer…) come out and give us estimates on the removal of the tree. One of them recommended that we clear out the growth below the trees. Come to find out, the weed trees and vines which have been filling out our fence line could be damaging the pine trees towering above us. For this reason, I donned a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and garden gloves one coolish morning and got to work cutting back these weeds.

Now on the list of things you should know about me, you would definitely see “Abby has allergies.” I’m allergic to nuts, watermelon, and chickpeas, to name a few. I’m also allergic to cedar trees and cat dander. And there was that one time when the Golden Gate bridge gave me a rash when I rested my arm on it. So, yeah, it makes sense that I’m allergic to poison ivy and all its family members. I tried to protect myself from the urushiol, the oil these nasty plants secrete, but at some point that morning, I must’ve scratched my right eyebrow because I’ve got the rash to prove it.

It’s funny because the rash didn’t pop up right away. For about a day after the bushwhacking of my backyard, I thought I was in the clear. But I was wrong. That poison sap got me after all.

There are lots of times when we’re enjoying the Great Outdoors that I ask the question: What’s the purpose of this annoying specimen of nature? Spiders are creepy, but they keep the insect population down. Vultures are gross-looking, but they speed up the decomposing process for roadkill. But what’s the purpose of poison ivy? It doesn’t seem to have any redeeming qualities. You can’t eat it or burn it for fuel. Why is it there other than to make me itchy?

All I can assume is that poison ivy wasn’t in the blueprints for the original backyard—the Garden of Eden. I feel confident in saying that Adam and Eve could look around and see everything blooming and growing perfectly, and they didn’t even need to add any MiracleGro. They didn’t have to slip on their garden gloves (or any other clothes, apparently) to protect themselves from the poisonous parts of the garden. It was heaven on earth. But we know how that all turned out…they followed the bad advice of a snake, disobeyed God, and got kicked out of their perfect garden. Fast forward many millennia to me and the poison ivy.

It’s just another reminder that, though life here can be beautiful and chock-full of blessings, it’s not all that it’s supposed to be. The original plan was a perfect existence of spending our days worshipping our Creator and giving animals names like “hippopotamus” and “ring-tailed lemur.” Instead, we tear out the weeds and rip down the vines because we know there’s something better to strive for. We’re created in God’s image, the ultimate Creator himself, and He has a plan to get us back to a garden free from all that nasty poison ivy.


Poison ivy


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