Sunday I ran through what I call my “Green Mile“. I live in Lancaster County, PA, so for me, a green mile is run on a road which bisects a corn field. It is July, and the corn already towers over my head. You can almost feel the photosynthesis turning water vapor, carbon dioxide, and sunlight into acres of cornstalks and leaves.
I also ran past a peach orchard,
some black-faced sheep,
and only five cars during the five miles I ran on country roads.
Summer brings a cornucopia of fresh, delicious food to our area. There are many farmers markets – everything from tiny stands by the side of the road, where the honor system is used to collect payment to the famous Lancaster Central Market, where dozens of vendors sell produce, baked goods, fresh meats and cheeses, and kitsch to the locals and tourists who visit.
The bounty is incredible, and we are in the thick of it. Peaches, corn, tomatoes, and beans are a few of the items in season right now. I bought a cantaloupe, my first of the season, yesterday and cut it open for a taste. A heartfelt “Mmmmm…” escaped my lips. “That good?” my hubby asked. “No, no,” I lied, “kind of bland“, but it was too late. He tasted a piece and put some of the chunks I had cut into a bowl. I hoped to save it for myself. Now I will have to go get another one tomorrow.
In years of bumper cantaloupe crops, you can see the “For Sale” signs change as the season progresses when you drive through farm country. At the beginning of the season, they are $2 apiece. Soon, the price will drop to $1. Then, as the cantaloupes pile up and autumn approaches, two, then four, then eight, and, finally up to 12 cantaloupes are sold for $1. Cantaloupes are one of the few types of produce frugal Pennsylvania Dutch farmers have not figured out how to preserve. Any unused melons will go to waste, and waste is a sin.
All of this gorgeous produce makes me think of abundance. An abundance of food, light, goodness, and life. No wonder summer is my favorite season.
Christ tells his followers “I came that they might have life and that they might have it abundantly.“Yes, abundantly, more life than anyone can possibly use. We are living in a universe controlled by a God with an almost manic generosity.
If I was in charge of everything, of the design and build of the earth and its life, would I be generous enough to produce a giraffe, a zebra, and an okapi? I think not.
Would I be extravagant enough to design trees that produce an uncountable number of deciduous leaves from air and sunlight, only to have the trees shed and have to regrow them each year? I can’t imagine.
Look at one single leaf. The part of the leaf we see is the epidermis, which controls the exchange of water, gasses, and sunlight between the plant and its environment. Sandwiched in between the two layers of the epidermis, in the middle of the leaf where most of the business of photosynthesis takes place, are the parenchymal cells containing chloroplasts. And don’t even get me started about the veins, the xylem, the phloem, the sieve plates or something called plasmodesmata.
All of these amazing components are in each leaf. And there are approximately half a million leaves on every mature oak tree, each one completely disposable. I could not even hope to make a working model of one leaf if it were my life’s work.
Think of the variety of flowers (25,000 species of orchids alone), the diversity of butterfly species (20,000) and the assortment of bird species (10,000) in the world. Each adult bird has up to 25,000 individual feathers, each one containing a shaft or rachis. Attached to each shaft are a series of branches or barbs. To each barb are attached smaller branches called barbules, and each barbule contains a series of hooks called barbicels.
The Creator loves detail and fringe, color and dazzle. His generosity and extravagance are evident. Exuberance is his calling card. Variety and intricacy are the norms.
The same generous spirit is apparent in God’s abundant love and grace. We are given everything we need, and much, much more. We are showered with blessings. The tricky part is to remember “not as the world gives do I give to you“.
Once you truly understand that, the tricky part, then you can live your life without fear, and without worry. When you incorporate that guarantee into your bones and deep in your soul, your days can be spent in rejoicing and praise, in exultation and glory, but the catch is everything – “not as the world gives do I give to you“.
I cannot imagine the generous spirit that creates rotifers and okapis, chlorella and butterflies, nematodes and giant sequoias. The details inherent in a kidney, a snowflake, a parenchymal cell, or even a single hydrogen atom, for that matter are beyond my comprehension. I also cannot imagine God’s generous, everlasting love and grace showered on the world in abundance, and yet…
Here they are – all of them. The rotifers, the butterflies, the kidneys and parenchymal cells and hydrogen atoms. And love. All of them, incontrovertibly here for us to enjoy. In abundance.
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