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Beginning gardener Laura Nelson contemplates the many references to plants in Jesus' parables.

I often joke that plants are too passive-aggressive for me. They just sit there and wilt and expect me to notice. What’s that all about?! At least my children tell me when they’re hungry or thirsty. Plants just sit there saying “Oh, don’t mind me. I’m fine. I know you’re too busy to water me. You have so many more important things to do.” 

Of course, my joke tells you much more about me that it does about the nature of plant life. The reality is, I’ve been much too distracted for way too many years to notice or nurture plant life in my life. Until recently, that is. 

With the onset of the coronavirus in our country and the shelter-in-place orders that many of us have lived or are living under, a lot of the distractions in my life have been removed. My pace has slowed. Suddenly, caring for the few plants in my life has become much more of a focus. I notice when they need water. I move them when they’re getting too much sun or too little. I prune off the yellowing leaves and branches to focus the nutrients on the healthy parts of the plant. I even fertilize their soil to help them grow more robustly. As a result of my attention, my plants have grown and flourished. In fact, I’ve even been able to multiply my efforts by dividing plants that have spread and by making cuttings to start new plants. Look at me! I’m gardening! 

As I grew my garden, I began to reflect on how many parables in the Gospels were about plants, seeds, and growth. Between the parables of The Sower (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23), The Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29), and the Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32), there’s so much to ponder about the nature and mystery of the Kingdom of God. But, it was the parable of the True Vine (John 15:1-17) that stopped me in my tracks. 

The parable of the True Vine talks of Jesus as the True Vine and His Father as the Vinegrower. The Vinegrower nurtures the vine and provides for its needs. He cuts away branches that aren’t producing fruit to preserve the health of the Vine. It sounded a lot like what I’ve been doing with my plants. But, with one major difference that I had never noticed before. 

God the Father, the Vinegrower, never neglects His Vine. 

Let’s be honest, until my distractions were removed, I was a horrible vinegrower. I ignored my vine and neglected it because other things were more important. Yet, God the Father, the King of the Universe and Creator of ALL, remains attentive to the Vine and all of its Branches. Nothing is more important to Him than the health of the Vine. All that is required of us is to remain in Him. 

For those of us who are spending a lot of time “remaining” these days, we might ask ourselves if we are remaining in Him while we’re remaining at home. Ask the Vinegrower to help you remain in Him now and when the distractions return to your life. And in your prayers today, you might want to give thanks that our Vinegrower is a lot more focused on us than I am on my plants! Seriously. You dodged a bullet on that one.

God the Father, the Vinegrower, never neglects His Vine.  #catholicmom

Copyright 2020 Laura Nelson
Image: Pexels (2018)