Written as part of an Advent Daily Devotional for the UCC in Wallace, ID
Don’t ask me to explain it, but Crystal has had a fascination with one of our prayer plants for nearly as long as she’s been part of the family. If she’s around when I water it, she moves in for a drink before it disappears into the soil. When we’re watching TV, it’s wise to keep an eye out for her nose in the plant, sniffing around, doing her darnedest to rearrange leaves into positions more to her liking. Predictably, every now and then we’ve picked up a separated leaf or two. Eventually, we found a branch with a clump of leaves on the floor, and it was only a matter of time until the second one was also clean cut off and tossed aside – leaving behind two brown stumps sitting side by side in a vacant pot.
My inertia left the pot in its place for awhile, including the route I take with the watering can. Once I finally picked it up and prepared to move it out, a careful examination of the situation revealed a small green shoot tentatively emerging under the wing of a dead brown stump. Who would have thought there’d still be life in that barren old pot? Maybe, just maybe, with some careful tending – and a new home, immune from Crystal’s care – the plant can again be a thing of beauty and a call to prayer.
Late in the Gospels, Jesus called his followers to watch and wait for signs of God’s activity and approach. It seems pretty clear to me that he didn’t mean we should watch passively while destructo kitty wrecks havoc on the environment. Much more likely, he meant to keep our eyes open and senses on high alert, because we can’t even pretend to know the who, what, when, where or why of God’s coming. It’s possible that God will surface in reruns of favorite well-worn traditions, but just as conceivable that signs of God stirring will emerge in totally unexpected and unimagined ways. A whisper in the midst of chaos. New found connections in the presence of an isolating pandemic. A baby instead of a conquering army. A hand to hold in the dark, A fragile shoot under the wing of a dead stump. For those who have eyes to see, there’s no limit to the possibilities. Watch!