God Manifest in the Mundane

Our recent family move to a different state necessitated many deliberate actions and modifications during the moving process. Of course, there was plentiful discard of what may be termed “junk.” The material for which we had no use was shipped to the “junkyard.” It no longer served any useful purpose. Other materials were classified as “clutter.” They needed to be organized more intelligently, perhaps to be used at a future time. In the past we did not see the value of materials we now judge to be clutter as significantly interesting or useful. Some clutter became useful as “giveaways,” including books which may or may not be useful to their new owners. Many items were donated to Goodwill Industries for resale.

Some giveaways had unusual histories. One example is the jade plant (Crassula ovata) which graced our Illinois home for almost twenty years. This jade plant began its sojourn as a very small plant a few inches tall, possibly purchased at very low cost from a supermarket shelf. A few months ago it had achieved a height of one meter and a width of a similar dimension. We found it impossible to transport this large volume jade plant to a new midwestern state. So we clipped all the fleshy leaves of the succulent plant, leaving only a few bare branches. It was a harsh reminder of the beauty we had enjoyed for two decades—now gone!

Happily, in the past few months our jade plant has experienced a renewal. Slowly, the branches have sprung back to life. The bare, woody stems have sprouted many new leaves fashioned in their characteristic ovals—some from the ends of stems where the clippers had lopped off succulent leaves, some from other random locations along the bare stems. The jade plant is slowly returning to its former attractive dense, dark green, fleshy succulence. This method of plant propagation is called root cutting. Some new jade plants also grew from stem cuttings. Several friends and relatives received young jade plants as “going away gifts,” offspring of our twenty year old jade plant.

Our experience with the recent renewal of our jade plant inspired us to research other methods of plant propagation. These fascinating methods are known to plant hobbyists. They have been developed over thousands of years ever since the writer of Genesis 1:29 penned these words: “And God said, Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food” (ESV). In addition to the method of plant propagation by seed, humanity has discovered other plant propagation methods in addition to the root and stem cutting methods described above. They are suitable for decorative plants such as our jade plant. Decorative plants are also created by God to supply esthetic enjoyment for humanity. Vegetative propagation methods involve splitting of the root system, layering, grafting, budding, and tissue culturing (used by cloning technologists to produce exact replicas). Our jade plant provided us with an imagery of resurrection as well as other spiritual life lessons.

What is our attitude toward the unusual characteristics of plants in our home and neighborhood? Do we perceive their fascinating characteristics as merely ordinary or do we recognize the unique traits as a manifestation of God’s creative genius? We have mused that the jade plant’s color, unique leaf shape, succulence and especially its power of renewal are wondrous outworkings of the genetic code which governs the activity of all life forms. Beyond this, many human gardeners are hobbyists gifted with creative plant propagation talents reflecting the ability of the Divine Creator.

When our grandchildren visited our Northwestern Illinois home and marveled at the multitude of unusual traits of plants and animals in our neighborhood, they were reminded by their grandfather many times that “God had (has) great ideas.” We encouraged them to reflect and appreciate the mundane as well as the exceptionally unusual.  

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