Do you know how a thing can keep standing for something else in your mind; though it’s perfectly fine in and of itself; but for some reason it beckons you to peek around its corner and see something else hiding. So it is with a shrub in our yard. (Yes, in the South, your house sits in the yard, and the houses up north and the White House have lawns.) So, I knew it was a Privet, but after googling photos, I found that ours is a Chinese Privet; pretty and fragrant, it has become one of our favorites. In my search for the name of what I’d planted years ago, I also found  the following descriptors concerning these shrubs.

Low maintenance hedge & privacy screen

        Adaptable to various types of soil

Drought tolerant!

Low maintenance, screen, adaptable and tolerant – yep, that’s my little bush; and not a bad set of personality traits to desire!

Nesting In The Privets – this title just walked into my head one day as I was mowing, and has been running around in there all spring and summer when I am near our bush. The notion that this is a great place to nest was reinforced as I considered those defining words.

This is the only plant around which I haven’t been able to mow closely, to trim near the truck, and I have really tried, only to have scraped and scratched myself and the mower. Other trees and shrubs however, bear the wounds of my attempts to trim while mowing. In our previous home place with large trees, I committed mower murder by running too close and encountering the tree roots. Here, where we have young trees, there are regrettably, my signature rings around the trunks near the ground made by the edge of my mower deck. The privet, however, is much too wise for me. Strong defenders, especially where I have attempted pruning, stand strong and sharp, unyielding to my intrusion. My legs and arms bear the proof. This is not to the Privet’s dishonor; it has gained my admiration in more ways than one.

Lovely spring fragrance, beautiful variegated foliage, small leaves spaced so that there is a feathery look – who wouldn’t want to live there? Whereas I can’t get a 40 something inch mower deck into the midst of the grass beneath, the birds can build a house and live in it! Good for them! These are not cat climbing limbs. With a thick growth habit of closely spaced narrow limbs, it discourages intruders. I haven’t noticed our cat even mildly interested in invading this space. If Mother Nature talks among her offspring, then I imagine she has encouraged Mrs. Mockingbird with whispers of “screen, privacy, and adaptable’. Sitting atop this Privet, the mockingbirds call out threats against our furry four-legged family members, from halfway across the yard. It seems they have found an ideal fort from which to launch their new families.

Are we as careful and concerned about the environment in which we bring our brand new little nestlings? As they become fledglings, are we watching them from the best vantage point, protecting them from predators with the ferocity of a mother bird and wielding strong stems against the intruders of our homes?

Does not Mother Nature herself, even if we didn’t have the Word of God to guide us, tell us to protect our young? The natural tendency of a mother and father is to provide for their children, including shelter. The physical shelter I see provided by the Privet is such a great example of the spiritual and emotional shelter we as parents and relatives need to be seeking for our precious children.

In line with the descriptors for this Privet, parents need to be tolerant and adaptable. Tolerant with the natural calamities of growing up, not in the sense of spoiling, or tolerating the misbehaving; that would only lead them downhill in the character department. Kids are going to have melt-downs over real stressors at times; they need us to be tolerant and tough for them as they strive to thrive through it all. If you thought life was about changes before, then you really discovered “life-changing” after you became parents! Adapt, adapt, adapt! All children are different, and so will the toleration levels be different, as well as the need to adapt to stages of child development. If we look at them with the eyes of Jesus, and pray REAL hard as we search HIs word for guidance, we’re going to find our little birds successfully ready for flight before we know it!

As parents, we hopefully have had our day in the limelight, and now would be a good time to seek low maintenance status. My husband and I have agreed on this one thing in child rearing – they did not ask to be born. We asked for them. We took on this responsibility and have gladly set aside some wants to fulfill their needs. It’s never been about sacrifice – rather, it’s been a privilege to seek less of self and enjoy the sweet charges with whom God entrusted us; making provisions as He enables us to do.

I’ll tell you something else about this Privet. When the strong southwest wind sweeps across our property, all the other trees bow in its presence. But this Privet bush stands its ground. I’ve hardly ever seen it bending with the wind. Ill winds will blow in our children’s lives; count on it. So be a Privet to hold your nest; screen the view until the young are mature enough to see all the ugly and still make wise decisions. Adapt and tolerate when those harsh winds blow and there’s an arid blight in their circle of the world, so that they will know your strong branches will catch them if they fall. And most importantly, point them to Jesus, so that they will know their creator, and will have a home to fly away to someday. Don’t forget low maintenance; if their support system is whiney and delicate, they learn to be needy and fearful. Low maintenance people are able to enjoy the real values in other.

I want to close this with a poem given to me by my great-aunt, Treva Jones Darnell, many years ago.


If you can’t be the pine on the top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley – but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.
If you can’t be a bush be a bit of the grass,
And some highway happier make.
If you can’t be a “muskie” then just be a bass,
But the liveliest bass in the lake.
We can’t all be captains, some have to be a crew,
There’s something for all of us here;
There’s work to be done, and we’ve all got to do
Our part in the way that’s sincere.
If you can’t be a highway, then just be a trail;
If you can’t be the sun, be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or you fail,
Be the best of whatever you are.