Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Shinleaf Discovery

THERE IS A SHADY WOODED PART of the property here along the stream bank where I recently found this lovely little plant which is called Shinleaf. It has the pretty Latin botanical name Pyrola Elliptica. Blooming  on schedule, the plant, also called Wild Lily of the Valley, produces one thin stem, low to the ground, crowned with fragrant white or light-pink inverted flowers. The leaves appear in a circular pattern at the bottom of the stem.

There was a wooded lot behind our suburban home on Long Island when I was a young boy - a place of investigating, learning and wondering. I think I built a hermitage there too. I remember the smell of the ferns and decayed leaves, finding a beautiful black and yellow box turtle and a pink Jack in the Pulpit. But this part of North East Pennsylvania contains an even more enormous number of wildflowers that appear one after another through the spring and summer. Shinleaf caught me by surprise this morning. 

"And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden." Genesis 2:8

Some people look for Eden to be a few mystery acres in the Middle East somewhere. Maybe Eden is God's name for the entire planet, planted with so many growing, blooming and often perfumed things.

Actress Helen Mirren was interviewed in the June/July issue of the AARP Magazine. When asked to say something about "God" she said, "The only time I've thought, 'Wow, maybe there is a god,' was when I saw an exhibition of spectacularly gorgeous minerals from the bowels of the earth." 

I'm genuinely happy for Helen Mirren for her moment of maybe. But I'm happier for myself to have come across a dozen or so Shinleafs growing in the woods and when bending down to the ground to make the second discovery of their faint perfume. "Earth is crammed with heaven..." Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote.


  1. I am happy to know that you can take notice of and appreciate the wonders around you. It speaks to your sensitivity and kindness towards all living things. A pleasure to read your insights and reflections. There is always something to learn from them.

  2. I have always thought of the Earth as Eden. The beauty of our planet is most certainly God's gift to us. Let us enjoy the fruits of the earth without falling into complacency and temptation. May we all recognize the little wondrous things of beauty around us. Thank you for spreading these words of joy with us.

  3. Thank you Fr. Stephen.... this one I've never seen