Friday, November 5, 2010

Mustard Seeds and Plants

Bountiful Harvest

A little diversion today from art-making.  Or is it?  I'm sharing my thoughts about a gardening experiment I did this year with our church.  Our theme for 2010-11 is Sustaining Faith.  We were all given tiny Florida Broadleaf Mustard seeds at the beginning of the year with reference to Matthew 17:20 where we are challenged to grow in the quality of our faith.

On January 24 the children planted some of the seeds in one big pot during our worship service.  I volunteered to take them home and be the "gardner".  I thought it would be an easy job.  The cold weather in January and February proved to be an obstacle to their growth as well as the screened porch where I put them thinking they needed some protection from the cold.  By March 14 they were still tiny!  Nonetheless, I transplanted them in small pots and brought them to church to display on the communion tables as a visual illustration of their sprouting.  I was embarrassed because another friend said hers were HUGE!

I took advice from my son who suggested I should set them outside so they would get direct sunlight and grow better.  He was right.  They began to add leaves and height and by April they were looking pretty good.

Then we traveled to CA for a week.  When we returned, these plants had faced another obstacle:  hungry caterpillers or cabbage worms.  Whichever they were, they almost destroyed them by eating holes in all the leaves.  Despite the fact they looked very bedraggled, I decided to let them grow and see what would happen.  They withstood the pests but by the time August rolled around, the temperatue was getting hotter and they produced long stems, then bloomed yellow flowers and seeded--but their leaves were still not thriving.  I came to the conclusion this had been an unsuccessful experiment and  cut off the stems and leaves with holes and ignored them, thinking I failed as the keeper of the seeds.

Then we took another trip for two weeks in September.  About a week after we returned I walked passed the pots and amazingly they had begun to flourish!  The cool weather had revived a couple original plants and there were several small seedlings growing, some not even in pots!  I perceived these were the 2nd generation sprouts produced from the seeds of the original plants.  So, I potted the seedlings in soil and started nurturing them all again.  With the cooler weather they thrived and I now had a Bountiful Harvest as shown in the photo above.  I was able to bring these mature plants to the worship service recently so the children could see the fruit of their plantings.

I learned several lessons about Sustaining Faith in this project:  These plants would have been thrown on the compost pile way before their harvest if it would have been up to me!  I almost did not give them a second chance, but after changing their environment and allowing them to keep on growing despite the eaten leaves, they continued to survive according to their seed's characteristics and God brought the harvest as a testimony to His faithfulness.  Likewise, my trust is in the LORD because He is faithful to be who He says He is and is the Sustainer who helps me maintain, endure and withstand obstacles in my life.

This lesson also transfers to my art-making because sometimes I want to throw away a painting when it is not turning out the way I want.  But, if I keep on working past the "ugly stage", oftentimes the finished piece is just what it is supposed to be!

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