We all grow in surprising ways. On Sunday I was privileged to share a story that reminded me of this. It is a story Jesus told, a parable:
The kingdom of heaven is like a person with the tiniest of all seeds, a mustard seed. It is so small that if I had one on the tip of my finger, you would not be able to see it with your naked eye. The person planted the seed in the ground and it began to grow. It grew into a large bush and then it grew so large it became like a tree. Soon, all kinds of birds came and made a home in the tree.
More or less, those are the words of the story Jesus told. Now here are some of the things you can picture in your mind’s eye: the “tree” is wild. It does not grow symmetrically. The birds are many-colored, also wild. Some of them make nests in the tree and some just want to fly. One of them comes very close to the person who planted the seed. This bird reminds me of the time Jesus came out of the baptismal water—and the Spirit in the form of a dove came close to him.
On Sunday when I told the story I saw new things in it. I imagined the person as the Father and the invisible seed as Jesus. I imagined the birds as the Holy Spirit—now red, then blue—sometimes black, white or gray—speckled or streaked—any color you can imagine. The Spirit makes a home and flies free. The Spirit loves both the plant and the planter.
The invisible seed (Jesus, the hidden God) grew and grew. We are the branches; each of us is a part of him, each of us makes a home for the Spirit of many-colors.
It was my daughter’s birthday on Sunday. As I entered into the wonder of the story, I savored a prayer of thanks for her life, grown from a wild vine. Like the branches in the story, I could not have predicted how or where she would grow--but one thing is unmistakable: the Spirit has made a home in her. Thinking of this still takes my breath away in worship.
Meaghan, you are beautiful. God loves you and so do I. Thank you for the shade you’ve given this weary traveler. You are truly a gift worthy of celebration.