The Greatest of all Shrubs
He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” – Mark 4:30-32
I first moved to the Pacific Northwest from the (very) Northern Midwest two decades ago. It took me easily ten years to prepare for the aggressive ferocity of spring here. One warm day in what seems like it should still be winter, everything (including that scraggly tree at the abandoned house across the street) just starts blooming. The grass grows noticeably taller overnight. There is a spread of fully-grown flowers where I don’t remember planting anything.
And there are also azaleas, a forsythia, and this pokey bush with red berries that someone who owned the house before us planted. Yesterday, they were barely collections of sticks. I was ready to pull them out of the ground. Now! Suddenly! They are the greatest of all shrubs! Today they show radiant blossoms in luminescent yellows and delirious pinks and astonishing reds.
I am not a very patient person. I wonder what else (or who else) I pass without a glance. I wonder what else (or who else) seems ugly or unworthy of attention. I wonder what else (or who else) is just about to bloom into full glorious beauty.
Colorful Creator – Keep us patient until the moment of full blossom; for that day and time is known only to you. Amen.
Jennifer Brownell is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Vancouver, Washington, and the author of Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath, her inspiring memoir.