Splendid Grass

Splendid Grass

The lakeshore contains one of the most inspiring environments that have been fashioned by the hand of our Creator. In this ecosystem is a unique combination of creatures that reflect the glory of our Lord. The child of God needs only to be on a dune bluff in the midst of a storm to realize the awesome power of God in the wind and the waves. On the other hand, he will be humbled in the realization of the temporary and changeable nature of this world in the erosion of great dunes and the building of them again.

One of the most fascinating plants created for this specific environment is the lowly dunegrass. It too is an incredible example of the simple beauty of our Lord’s handiwork.

Think about it: pure white sand baking in the sun, erosion from wind and wave. It is an environment so harsh most plants cannot start, much less thrive, in this corner of the creation. However, the lowly dunegrass is perfectly suited to fit into this niche of the creation.

Dunegrass has many different names: sawgrass, marram grass, american beach grass. The seed is sterile so it spreads by reproducing through eyes (stolons) that are part of the root system. These eyes are carried by the waves to new territory when pieces break off in the spring and fall storms to be washed up on the beach and buried again by sand. It is only in the non-summer months that the plant is dormant (asleep) so that it can survive the trip unharmed.

This plant can be buried by several feet of sand and still grow to the surface. These buried roots help form a deep tangled mat that helps to keep the dune from washing away into the lake. The other way dunegrass controls erosion is through the toughness of its blades. These blades stand tall until snow flattens them in the winter. They turn brown with the frost. However, they do not rot away for many years. The result is that a dense mat of this dead grass is formed on the surface of the sand which keeps it from washing away in the rain or blowing away in the wind.

Interestingly enough, this plant grows next to both oceans, which are saltwater, and next to all of the Great Lakes, which are fresh water, it is unaffected by saltwater. It likes the northern latitudes. It rarely grows below South Carolina. Therefore, dunegrass is the primary plant that keeps sand from blowing around the country.

As tenacious and tough this plant is, why doesn’t it take over all the other plants? Its spread is limited naturally to the places where waves can move it around. It loves the accretion and erosion of the lakeshore. It does not like humus or competition. It disappears soon after other plants get a chance to grow using the protection it provides. In fact, that is why it is a transition plant preparing the land for woodland plants like trees shrubs, flowers and ferns. Many insects and animals make their home among the dunegrass plants as well.

Man has learned to use this gift of God by planting it for erosion control on lakes and inland sand hills. This was done in great volume in the WPA days of the Great Depression. Also, it is planted in home landscapes to provide a no-maintenance yard.

If our Maker has so wondrously covered the barren sand dunes to bring them to life, He can certainly take care of the hearts of His people. He takes their dead hearts, dry and lifeless with sin and brings them to life by covering them with His blood.

We see how our Creator has wisely given a special plant for a particular place and situation. Just as the dunegrass plays a major part in the control of erosion in all of the creation, each plant, each animal, each insect is created to fill a special niche, a particular place that only it can fill. In filling that roll, each creature reflects the God’s glory in a unique way. For this reason alone it is important to protect species from complete destruction. Just as each creature has its special place, God has given each saint a particular place in the body of Christ. Whatever his color, size, abilities, sex or social status each reflects His glory in a particular way. Also, He gives these individuals to the church to serve in important and unique ways. Never may we look down on a fellow saint. The least is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. May God give us grace to appreciate His handiwork.

Death and Life

Our hearts by nature barren, dry, and dead
As dunes are blown by winds, unable to rest;
Are anguished and sad, filled with dread,
Unable to stand in the smallest test.

Our hearts by grace are pulsing with life,
Planted with His Spirit , hope do hold
Of victory in the midst of trial and strife,
In life’s trials and storms able to be bold.

By: Deane Wassink

Our hearts by grace are pulsing with life,
Planted with His Spirit, hope do hold
Of victory in the midst of trial and strife,
In life’s trials and storms able to behold.

Deane Wassink