Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
October 2019
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[RST] The stinging nettles in my garden

[I’ve decided to start archiving these little homilies that I’ve been writing for the women in my Relief Society group at Church. The “RST” stands for Relief Society Thoughts. More details are at the end of this post.]

In a fit of domesticity yesterday I decided to weed the narrow strip of garden along the driveway, where I had planted lots of cheerful little perennials. As I did so I came across a plant that looked like a stinging nettle. Let’s be honest here: I pretty much KNEW it was a stinging nettle, just on seeing it. Its status in my garden was no less clear: I certainly hadn’t planted it, it certainly wasn’t welcome, and, although it is not unattractive visually, I certainly didn’t want it.


Now we get to the stupid bit. Despite pretty much knowing it was a stinging nettle I touched it (I can’t weed with gloves on, sorry) … and you know what? It didn’t sting me. Hah! A win to me. Maybe it wasn’t really a stinging nettle. Maybe I had developed superhuman immunity-to-stinging-nettle powers. Maybe it was plain dumb luck.

Now we get to the really stupid bit. I touched it again … and this time I got that ouchy stinging sensation that verified — if I really hadn’t known before — that, yes, this really is a stinging nettle.


There are many stinging nettles out there in the world. Sometimes they sneak into our gardens uninvited. Sometimes we inadvertently let them in. Sometimes we invite them in willingly, not realising what they are. Sometimes we invite them in, knowing what they are, thinking that we might have immunity to them. Sometimes we’ve had clear warnings about them, and yet we think we can fight them off. They are the dodgy websites, the songs with questionable lyrics, the books that clearly cannot be uplifting, the articles that undermine virtue. They may look appealing, they may have parts that are “safe”, they may not harm us at first, they may deceive us by seeming to be something other than what they are. However, if they are stinging nettles, they will sting.

My garden no longer has stinging nettles although I can’t help suspecting that I will need to be alert to reappearances. However, the sooner I can be rid of them the fewer problems they will cause. Similarly we need to be alert for the stinging nettles around us, and remove them from our lives before they can take hold.

(There are two truths that must be confessed: I removed all four of the plants I found barehanded and didn’t get stung again (see comment about dumb luck!), and I’m told that you can make good soup from them. Please ignore these additional pieces of information, as they totally ruin the analogy!)

Note: The Relief Society Thoughts posts are reprints of little mini-sermon/parable/homily-thingies that I’ve been writing for the women in my Relief Society group at Church. I write them when inspiration strikes and email them out as well as posting them to our facebook page. I thought I’d add them to my blog as well. You can find others by clicking on the “Relief Society Thoughts” category label, in the grey box at the end of this post, and the most recent of the thoughts should have a list of all the posts by title at the end. Previous posts are:

The black Sunday shoes (Jul 2014)
An unspectacular sunset
(Jul 2014)
On not doing ALL the things
(Jun 2014)
Gulp! I didn’t see that coming (Mar 2014, which sort of explains the job of “Relief Society President”)

1 comment to [RST] The stinging nettles in my garden

  • David

    Thought provoking 🙂 Please do keep posting these pieces. I really liked this one!
    You could even use them/adapt them for use in Scouts Owns.

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