Plant Suicides and Matters of Faith
Today’s guest post comes from Sarah, who writes at From Tolstoy to Tinkerbell. She’s a book and word lover, which makes her a foe to be reckoned with in the game Words With Friends (I’ve not played, but I’ve seen the wailing and gnashing of teeth when she plays a 96-point word). She knows the shaky path of doubt and the cynicism about faith, and she has found faith on the other side. I’m delighted to share her with you.
Carolina blue skies, thin wisps of white clouds, deep forest green leaves, honeysuckle humid air—and I sit book in hand watching this sunshiny day. Here, in this bit of quiet, I savor my brief respite from motherhood’s grand cacophony. Even now, it’s clanging soundtrack of sibling squabbles over too much milk or cereal or being “misheard,” dishes banging, dogs barking which plays in my head almost pulling out of my front porch seat. Almost, but not quite. This brief moment of morning sweetness is too precious not to enjoy.
From my red front porch chair, I swell a bit with pride. I have not killed the flowers in the hanging pots. My newest record to date—3 weeks of keeping cheap Lowe’s flowers alive. This year, I chose rust orange marigolds, yellow marigolds, and striped petunias. What was even better is these flowers lived because I’m notorious for causing undue suffering to my hanging plants (just ask the snapdragons and ferns from last year). But pride does bring one low—there next to my perfectly happy orange marigold, a space, a gap…where was the yellow marigold?
Great, another plant suicide, I thought. And I imagine this yellow marigold’s melodramatic Greek tragedy soliloquy followed by quick leap into plant oblivion. Probably, a more humane way of going than death by not watering. But before I panicked over another plant death on my conscience, I saw the hits of yellow petals straining towards the sun. Here, my yellow marigold craned to find more of the sun’s life giving rays. Petals fully extended, leaves reaching up as if it strained a bit harder it could touch the sun.
Without thinking a sing-songy interruption to my mental soundtrack: Just like this little flower needs the sun, we need the Son too.
Blindsided by Sunday School Lesson in everything soundtrack, I thought after years of struggling with doubt, my lingering cynicism, and faith reborn that I had moved past these childish faith metaphors. Rolling my eyes at myself, it has become too easy to scoff at this simplicity. True, these pithy sayings irk me, fuel my doubt and skepticism, but at the same time, I envy those believers who can accept simple faith analogies.
For these Christ-followers, faith appears in simple terms—not couched in grand multisyllabic terms. This is where doubt and faith collide. How can the grandest of all things be taught through a $2.00 flower? Maybe, I relish the complicated faith because my pride can hide behind its intellectual guise. I can cover up my lack of faith, my struggles with doubt if I can spout off a string of doctrinally correct phrases.
Perhaps, I need that simplistic faith lesson with me after all.