Psalm 63:1-8(9-11), 98 (Morning)
Psalm 103 (Evening)
1 Peter 5:1-11
Here in northeast Missouri, it’s the time of year that many of us have tomato seeds growing in plastic flats and leftover plastic containers–even in leftover Keurig K-cups (my latest bright idea–although I usually use my reusable Eko-brew holder in my Keurig, I had to assuage my guilt over some K-cups given to me as Christmas gifts.) There’s nothing like the sunshine-laden taste of a fresh-grown tomato to remind us that “the generative forces of the world are wholesome.”
It’s easy to forget this message in light of the news these last few weeks–bombings, explosions, murders, floods. The destructive forces of the world garner more column inches and sound bytes because, frankly, tragedy sells, and these tend to be loud and demanding events. One has to observe and listen to see the generative forces of the world, and they tend to be small and subtle. But for me, tomato plants are the perfect representation of them.
Tomato plants can grow just about anywhere–no acreage or special preparations needed. They don’t need a garden–any old pot or tub will do. They can grow in urban areas from apartment windowsills. They grow for people with no gardening skills. They can grow in the most Darwinian of situations. All they need is water and sunshine.
Home-grown tomatoes are the antithesis of the modern American produce section. Need to feel a little like a maverick? The tomato section of the seed catalog can fill the bill. Even the ordinary seed catalogs carry varieties you’ll never see in the store. Some catalogs even cater exclusively to “heirloom” varieties. It takes very little effort at all to have something right in your own backyard or on your own porch that you’ll never find at the supermarket.
Even in the terrible tragedies suffered over these past few weeks, we could see evidence of sprouting tomato seeds–not just among first responders, medical personnel, firefighters, and law enforcement, but among the ordinary and extraordinary kindnesses by total strangers. I was particularly moved by the people during the Boston tragedy who handed off their cell phones to allow others call loved ones–and instructed them to simply keep passing those phones forward.
Our reading today is a reminder that the tendency of human nature is to tend weeds rather than grow tomatoes, and that all we’ll get by tending weeds is…well…weeds. It’s not that God desires tomatoes; God desires that we have tomatoes and enjoy as many varieties as we can. God desires we have the pleasure of their tangy freshness, no matter what conditions produced them. But we won’t have them if we don’t plant them. I’ll be the first to tell you that not every tomato plant I put out makes it. But somehow, despite my inattentive gardening habits, I always end up with more tomatoes than I thought I’d have. When we plant hospitality, acceptance, and welcome, the miracle is that we always end up with more of it to give away than we expected.
What tomato seeds are growing right under your nose, that all they need to prosper are the waters of our baptism and a little Son-shine?
Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, writes about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid