As a biology-major in college, I watched a film called The Secret Life of Plants. In the excruciating candor of time-lapse photography, the often violent, frequently erotic, and continually astounding rawness of life, growth, reproduction, and death are portrayed in intimate detail. As living creatures, we often seem to consider plants as dull, still, unmoving, and passive; this is far from the case.
The spring rights of the seed are a catalytic cacophony of silent space, bursting forth with such force and vitality, such pressure and presence, as to neatly explode from the potential of the seed to the insatiable light seeking upward blossoming of stem, leave, flower, and fruit. Dry, cold, and still, the seed when exposed to moisture begins to swell. Enzymes catalyze a cascade of chemical reactions, and as the water volume increases, so does the pressure inside the seed case. There’s a shaking, a cataclysmic cracking open, and the violation of an emerging root. Without hesitation, the root quickly pushes down, expanding, growing, and thrusting with each mitotic division of cell into cell. Rough and tenacious, the leading edge of the root tip pushes two steps forward and one step back, scraped raw by the rough edge of the dirt
Uncurling in the opposite direction, the stem starts as a swelling, and then an up surging force fighting against both gravity and the weighted blades of the surrounding soil. The seed now pulled in two directions has completely disappeared as a separate entity and is instead absorbed into the whole growing being of the plant. When some final virility thrusts the stem through the soil, into the brightness of the air the ground trembles in that little death that harbingers new life.
Opening for Worship:
I stand tasting the dust
coating my teeth,
and sing into the echoes
of the hard white pews
and plain blue walls
of the Ransom Valley Lutheran Church.
Open for prayer and meditation daily
(May through October)
the dusty vaults of my heart
(which echo the songs of worship),
I see what locks closed
in winter cold
waiting for someone to wander in
and test the sound.
S.M.C. 6.28.04 (ed. 4.5.09)