There is a woman who’s name the world will never know.
But I do.
I remember the love in her eyes as she told me a story about her grandchildren.
I remember the strength in her voice as she spoke of the faithfulness of God even while her body weakened with a ravaging cancer.
I remember sorting through hand-written letters from dozens of students blessed by her touch.
I remember the grace reflected in her daughter’s smile and the hope sparkling in her grandchildren’s eyes even as they laid her to rest, because they shared in the joy passed down from her.
Yet she never made the headline news or was interviewed by Oprah. She didn’t win a medal or write a book. No movie or hit single will be made about her. No historical foundation will preserve her home. No tourist bus will point out her grave.
In the world’s star-struck eyes, she was just an ordinary woman, steadfast yet unassuming like the bodark trees I see in Central Texas.
Blending in with the underbrush bordering my grandparents’ creek, I don’t see it at first. There is not much in a Bodark tree’s spindly branches and reptilian-skinned fruit to recommend itself to the casual observer’s eye, and yet there it is, peeking out from the foliage, a natural hedge for years gone by in the hidden recesses of the creek’s embankment.
It’s an ordinary tree–so ordinary in fact, that most farmers see its chief use as fuel for a bonfire, yet God has put beauty inside this tree–beauty in the ordinary and despised.
Bright, effervescent yellow, its wood shimmers like gold as it catches the light with its cats-eye chatoyance.
Strong, flexible and durable, the ancient Native Americans used it to craft their bows. The French settlers called it bois d’arc or “bow-wood”.
God hides beauty in the ordinary, the weak and mundane, which the world despises.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. -1 Corinthians 1:27-29