My Dear Friends--
As many of you know, I’ve recently returned from spending time with my family in Georgia, near Atlanta. The weather was beautiful, and I spent a lot of time with my mom in her new garden. (Some of you may recall that my last trip to Georgia involved the relocation of Mom’s sizeable compost pile-it was especially rewarding to see the fruits of that labor!) As we toured Mom’s garden, I marveled at her industry and struggled to remember the names of myriad plants while she told me their stories. At one point she chuckled, acknowledging that there were “no end of lessons” to be learned in the garden-plenty of fodder for the sermon writer!
As I’ve been abiding with the Parable of the Talents-our rather difficult lesson from Matthew’s gospel this week-a moment from my time with Mom in her garden comes back to me. The gardeners among us will be familiar with the art of propagation: the taking of a clipping or cutting from one plant and repotting it in the hopes of creating another. For me, a novice with far more enthusiasm than experience, this is usually a rather fraught exercise. Firstly, I’m always loath to take shears to any plant that’s been gracious enough to survive under my care. And secondly, what if the cutting doesn’t survive? I’ve only got so many plants, after all!
But as we walked among Mom’s many new beds, planted with the plants she’s carried with her from house to house, place to place, over the years, she wielded her clippers with a joyful, untroubled ease. “Listen,” she said, coating the tip of a new cutting with rooting hormone before plunging it into a pot, “no need for any angst-if it grows, it grows! If not, well....” At this she straightened and took in the backyard with a sweep of her arm. No need for angst when you’re surrounded by abundance.
There are many questions we might ask about this week’s lesson from Matthew-many elements that might trip us up or provoke anxiety. But at its core, I believe we find an invitation to embrace abundance. The trouble for us is that too often it’s easier to get lost in a human economy of scarcity than to trust in a divine economy of abundance-grace doesn’t always appear as vividly and vibrantly as Mom’s many flowers. Nevertheless, it’s there: sprouting, growing, blooming-in us, and in our world.
In faith and love,