Unexpected growth

My father gave me this plant, a croton only a few inches tall then, a week or so before he died. In the 20-plus years since, it’s grown and survived several moves, getting toppled by a kitten, and an attempted rawhide bone burial in its soil by an Australian shepherd. Its offspring from cuttings are healthy and lush. The original, now a long trunk/stem with some leaves on top, has hung in there.

We can come to the point where all evidence points to something staying exactly the way it is, and we think we’re foolish to believe, much less hope, otherwise. Things are the way they are — make the best of it. Right? Sure, we hear words about hope and change, but that’s not reality. Not for us.

Then we get an idea for Croton-new growtha new product or creative project. A challenge at work or at home forces us to reexamine the ordinary. We discover an unexpected connection. A gift comes our way, seemingly out of the blue.

In the case of this seasoned croton, a shiny little leaf appears about midway up the trunk. The plant had no apparent reason to sprout new growth here; leaves usually start growing up top with the other leaves. But a new branch in the middle of nowhere?

The reality of the present moment may look the same, but this little green leaf reminds us that reality is, in fact, change and growth. Much of it happens behind the scenes, but when it appears, might we see that reality differently? Might we even dare to hope?

The angel Gabriel — charged with the daunting task of convincing a teenage girl that her unplanned pregnancy was part of a much bigger plan — said it best: “Nothing shall be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)

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