A Valuable Lesson from Marsh Grasses

The lotus is not the only plant that emerges from the depth of mud and murky waters. I recently went for a walk along a creek just before dusk and stopped for a while to observe the marsh grasses.

Compared to all the other exciting things to see at the creek, such as pelicans, seagulls, dolphins, shrimp boats, and fishermen, at first look marsh grasses seem to be quite ordinary and boring.  Maybe they make for a nice green contrast against other more interesting things in my photos, so I thought, but that’s all. Upon closer observation, however, I noticed just how remarkable marsh grasses are.

The marsh grasses I observed reminded me of the lotus, because they, too, have to work their way through a sticky mass of wet earth before they are able to catch their first rays of the sun. When they are still in the depth of the dark compact earth, how do they know in which direction to grow? Do they orient themselves by the warmth of the sun generated on the surface of the earth?

It takes a lot of strength and determination to penetrate the heavy mass of the mud. Marsh grasses come in the hundreds, thousands, or millions along a creek. Those grasses that are situated together with and perhaps shielded by other grasses are tall and strong. The ones that are solitary and exposed generally show signs of stunted growth and weakness. When the wind brushes the surface of the landscape, marsh grasses follow its direction. Thus, they constantly and randomly sway in the wind and change direction, whichever way the wind commands them. For this reason, marsh grasses are flexible. It helps them to endure.

Sometimes the water level is low and exposes most of the length of the grasses, except of their root systems in the mud. Other times, the water rises and immerses the grasses so that only their tips are visible. Then they are rocked back and forth by the waves of the heavy water mass surrounding them. For this reason, marsh grasses have to be strong.

When the water is low, marsh grasses hide little crabs and shore birds from predators in their midst.The behavior of marsh grasses metaphorically demonstrates what it takes to navigate life in this world: Strength, determination, endurance, flexibility, companionship, care, and a striving for warmth and light.