It was the end of January during one of the coldest winters I could remember, with more snow than I wanted to see and temperatures plummeting to -30 degrees F and staying there for days on end. I had just returned from my first missions trip to Mozambique and was still suffering from a bit of jet lag and more than a bit of culture shock – now reversed. The huge missions compound with 200 children was built on sand, as far as the eye could see and the weary sandaled feet could plod. Temperatures were 120 degrees F and higher indoors than out, unbearable but for the mercy of one beautiful shade tree.
Now I was suddenly plopped back into this Canadian deep freeze, plodding through snow instead of sand. The physical aspects alone were enough to produce culture shock. But that was the least of it. Everything was turned upside down – especially my heart. Pieces of it were left in the red dirt of Africa. I wondered now if I had even been of any help to anyone on this trip, thinking of others who had to care for me when I became ill.
On one of those dead-locked winter days I was driving past a favorite greenhouse that I loved to frequent in the summer. Remembering the scent of roses and wet dirt, of walking through aisles of hundreds of fragrant blooms with the sun coming through all the glass windows, I instinctively pulled into the parking lot. I needed to see something, anything alive and green. The sign on the door read “Open”!
Almost in shock, I turned the handle and the door opened with a creak. I had entered another world. Fog covered the bottom windows while sunlight streamed in from the glass above, melting the snow from my boots into little puddles of water on the concrete floor. The smell of moist earth brought tears to my eyes and the sight of aisle after aisle of green plants was almost dreamlike.
Closer inspection revealed that these were all starters – new, young plants grown from seed or cuttings from last season’s mature plants. Here they were lovingly fed, watered and nurtured to become beautiful, fruitful plants for the season ahead.
I picked up one of the small clay pots in my gloved hands, turning it around to view the tiniest geranium I had ever seen. It was as if a normal geranium had been shrunk to microscopic size. But each leaf was perfectly formed in miniature. Lifting it to my nose brought the same pungent fragrance that had perfumed my gardens for years. Imagine! Something so tiny it was barely identifiable, yet it already contained the true fragrance of the flower it would become next summer when the winter was over and gone.
Tiny tomato plants with the smell of ripe tomatoes brought fresh tears to my eyes and a prayer to my lips there in the midst of the damp earth and the promise of Spring. “Oh God, please let my life be like this tiny plant. Nurture me here in Your arms until all that You’ve placed within me comes into fullness and fruitfulness in the seasons ahead.”