Although comely in appearance, clusters of plump red berries, the autumn fruit of Missouri Honeysuckle bushes (Lonicera maackii), red-flag the attention of environmentalists. These berries, of no nutritional value, attract birds that either ingest them or drop them on the ground to be reseeded for the next season.

Originally planted in gardens as a border shrub, the Missouri Honeysuckle has become a nuisance. Its aggressive spring growth chokes out other native plants around them and infests easements, forest floors, and creek bottoms making them impassable for hikers and hunters. Utility workers have labored for hours to free up their lines. Brush cutters, chainsaws, or hand tools, together with applications of herbicides are the only effective means to eliminate these bushes that can grow up to twenty feet tall.

This untrammeled growth of Missouri Honeysuckle bushes, noted for years during walks, gives me pause–a prodigious greening power that kills life around it. Obvious parallels with bacterial infections come to mind.

However, lesser ones, like unconscious rituals, unthinkingly practiced for decades, can be just as deeply rooted and harmful. On the surface, like the glistening red berries on the Missouri Honeysuckle, everything looks proper. But a closer inspection reveals blockage of deep thinking and reflective choices producing sprawl and clutter.

Reliance upon the power of God can eliminate such entrenchments and enable us to walk unencumbered into the light, streaming into our senses and enriching our inner selves.

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