Of kudzu and sin

Published 1:00 pm Saturday, July 22, 2023

It was a lot of years traveling to and from Oxford on Highway 30 that I watched the infamous kudzu vine engulf trees, land and a few empty houses along the drive. I had never liked its destructive creeping, but I was certainly alarmed when I noticed a small cluster of it beginning its extermination on the edge of our property. Now my dislike was more personal due to the threat to our hillside and its trees.

With the kudzu’s ability to climb everything — even power lines and their poles’ guide wires — I could easily visualize what it would do to our walking and four-wheel trails around our home. There would be no stopping it.

I had done a little research on the killer vine and its origin. It hailed from Asia in the late 19th century as a garden novelty. I’m sure gardening fans were fascinated with its hardy, vigorous growth on their trellises and arbors. I remember my parents sharing that the government paid farmers to plant kudzu during the Great Depression for erosion management.

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It didn’t take very long for the vine to earn the names — “a mile-a-minute-vine” and “the vine that ate the South.” As for erosion, kudzu certainly solved that problem but left the farmers searching for their land!

What began as a solution to a problem turned into a bigger problem. The kudzu began killing thousands of trees with nothing to kill it. Not a single insect has developed a taste for its fuzzy leaves. Its roots are its secret power — they’re thick and store water, so Mississippi summers don’t slow them a bit. I read that the vine grows a foot a day!

It’s a plant that’s the subject of a lot of research. If scientists discover its vines hold a cure for some disease, we certainly won’t worry about running out of it.

KUDZU — its name describes it. K is for kidnapper — it abducts young and old trees, houses, land and never returns them. U is for ugly. There’s no beauty (to me) in those suffocating vines that crawl under, over and through any obstacle and shut off light and life. D — destructive! So many beautiful forests are now dying trees under a ceiling of vines. Z is for zip — it’s equipped with a phenomenal zip and vitality to fuel its insatiable appetite for more, more and more. U is for unmanageable — it grows like a wildfire and refuses to die unless the mother root is completely uprooted.

My, my, Mr. Kudzu, what close similarities you hold to sin — a kidnapper of life, ugly, destructive, never satisfied, and out of control. Maybe its tendency to mimic sin is what makes me hate it. And my hatred is justified:  “For the wages of sin is death.” However, unlike kudzu, sin has a Terminator: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).

Letters to Camille Anding may be sent to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602.