Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,
a shelter from the storm,
like streams of water in a dry place,
like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
Ferns are the "shut-ins" of God's flower kingdom,
Hidden in the mossy dwells and cool retreats
Their lace-like fronds uncurl in fresh, green beauty
Far from the busy world and dusty streets.
They bear no gorgeous flowers of gold or crimson,
No dainty blooms of blue or pearly white;
Their graceful leaves exhale no strong, sweet odor,
Their very seeds are hidden from our sight.
And yet, sometimes, to eyes that tire of brightness,
To senses sated with the rich perfume,
How grateful is the cool green of the fern-leaves
Set in the silence of some shaded room.
Can we not learn from them some blessed lesson,
We, who, like them, are growing in the shade?
Their lovely freshness is a constant beauty,
Dewy and sweet when summer blossoms fade.
When others come, who, dwelling in the sunshine,
Have grown a-weary of the toil and strife,
Can we not share with them our calm and quiet -
Show them the beauty of a hidden life?
May we not give to them some tender message,
Some of the garnered peace we hold in store,
Some of the songs God giveth in the midnight,
When sleep flies from us and the pain is sore?
They walk with hurrying steps Life's busy highway,
Often the still, small voice they cannot hear;
But we can listen in the restful stillness
Its words of faith and hope and gladsome cheer.
We dwell in safety in our Lord's green pastures,
Our souls at rest the quiet waters by;
Willing to be since we may not be doing,
Living epistles, open to the eye.i
Our frail lives hidden in His strength eternal,
Guarded and shielded from the tempest's shock,
The wild winds pass us by - they cannot harm us
Where we are sheltered by our Fortress Rock.
Sometimes, perhaps, the ferns may long to blossom,
Even as we to see our work's reward;
Impatient of the stillness and the shadow,
Envy the roses on the sunny sward.
"Foolish!" we say, "the dust and heat would kill them,
That sweet, cool shadow is their very life,"
Yes - and, God knows, perhaps our spirit's beauty,
Might, like them, wither in the great world's strife.
So He doth keep us, set apart in shadow,
Far from the lovely garden's sunny sod;
And why He does it we shall know hereafter,
"Be still," He says, "and know that I am God!"
Can we not trust our loving heavenly Father
To do the very best that can be done,
Though one be planted in the glowing sunlight,
Set in the silence and the shadow - one?
Be we content to say our word in secret,
Content to wear our garb of sober green,
And, while the world is praising other workers,
Our tiny seeds cast out, though all unseen.
We may not show our love and zeal by labor,
Our hands are folded, though they tire of rest;
Fettered the feet that fain would run His errands,
Willing and swift. But yet, He knoweth best
Just the conditions which will suit our growing,
Just the environment we best may stand;
For the green ferns the cool depths of the forest,
And for our shade the "shadow of His hand."
—Annie Johnson Flint