This is chicory, though the flower is whiteish rather than the more common blue, which I found growing in Gisburne Park this summer. Look it up, and you’ll be overwhelmed by sites waxing lyrically about its edible qualities- chiefly its leaves in salads and its roots which can be cooked like parsnips or ground and added to coffee. It contains inulin, a starch-like substance which our bodies find helpful. The flower, however, which is the most attractive of the plant’s features, has a bitter taste and is rarely eaten. We must not assume that the beautiful, the pretty and the gorgeous are helpful and edifying. Lost in the woods with little hope of a meal, it’s the ugly chicory root and plain foliage which offers the most benefit, not the dainty flower.

Gospel Christianity is so plain. Few of its ministers wear elaborate robes, its meeting houses are rarely decked by ornament and decoration. There are few rituals by which we might be gratified and the best churches’ set little store by professional music and fancy performances. Its doctrines are straight from the book, not needing councils and professors to interpret them. As for gospel people? Not many of us are noble, or wise, or attractive. A generally plain people God elected to save- ordinary folk, rarely esteemed or exalted by the great ones. Says Proverbs 31:

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,

But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

A useful root is better than a pretty flower.