Pondering Poison & Beauty


In my neighborhood, the oleanders are blooming. As I ran past them this morning I questioned, perhaps for the first time, my abhorrence of them. Why should I, a lover of beauty, abhor oleanders?

If I were unaware that their leaves, flowers, stems, and roots are toxic, perhaps I would appreciate their beauty. Is the certain knowledge that they can be deadly to humans and pets incompatible with an appreciation for the life and color they bring to my neighbors’ yards? Perhaps I could appreciate the fact that they’re green all year round and tenaciously bloom even in the desert heat. I read that they are also used in many kinds of medicine. A certain good to appreciate.

Oleanders are not the only deadly beauties God created. There are poisonous dart frogs, varieties of venomous snakes, and fancifully decorated mushrooms all of which seem designed to attract an unsuspecting lover of visual beauty.

There is something in me that wants all beautiful things to be good through and through. But that is not reality. Sometimes gorgeous things are deadly. Sometimes beautiful creations can kill you.

So too with sin. It’s dishonest to deny the beauty, and potentially fatal to ignore the poison.

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