A bit of a mystery has begun to grow on our front porch.
We have two pedestal planters positioned there, to offer guests a welcoming splash of color as they enter our house.
The two pots are identical in size and shape – and a few weeks back, we planted an identical assortment of annuals in each. Or so we thought.
Today, the matching planters have surrendered much of their symmetry, courtesy of a particularly vigorous coleus plant on the one side (or perhaps an anemic one on the other side.)
And that’s the thing: At the time of planting, the two seedlings came from the exact same tray…and since then, they’ve been tended and watered in exactly the same way. So why the difference in their size today?
I’m sure a botanist could provide a perfectly reasonable explanation – determining, for example, that the starter plants might not have been identical in the first place. They might well be “coleus cousins,” rather than “siblings.” (Indeed, the species is known for offering gardeners a wide range of varieties.)
Whatever the answer, I find myself taking more than a little delight in the mystery that’s taken root right there on my front porch. It’s a daily reminder of a certain formula Jesus uses to describe the kingdom of God. We encounter the image in the gospel passage heard at Mass this week:
Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
Indeed, I’m now witnessing how the two coleus plants have begun to life-cycle “of their own accord” on our front porch – and taking note that my contributions (while necessary) ultimately do very little to control the outcome.
That’s a marvelous thing, in my view: to encounter a measure of the holiness in coleus…a simple yet splendid signature of the Holy One, growing just outside our front door.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.