Tending the Shoots of Redemption | Sojourners

Tending the Shoots of Redemption

July reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle A
An illustration of three vials that contain roots of leafy plants: The left has several oval-shaped green leaves, the center has a large singular dark green leaf, and the right has a blue-green circular leaf. Each has a gold halo behind their leaves.
Illustration by Lauren Wright Pittman

BEFORE THE PANDEMIC hit, I could have told you the precise number of my indoor plants: zero. But then lockdown started and, like countless people around the world, I became obsessed with all things leafy and green. Once I learned how to keep a plant alive, I began to nurture cuttings. To see that first fresh leaf grow — an assurance that new roots had taken hold — filled me with a kind of joy heretofore unknown.

I needed to feel like life could not just survive, but flourish and thrive. “Give this at least six weeks before repotting,” I would text a friend from her porch as I dropped off the gift of a budding leafy monstera, “just to let the roots settle.” Then I’d trudge back to the sidewalk to watch my friend open her door, wave to me, and take this small extension of myself into her home. Months later, when we could visit in person, I’d get to see how much these little ones had grown. Great leafy extensions of love.

Most of the gospel readings this month contain horticultural parables — seeds and soil, wheat and weeds, sowers and reapers. Before the COVID-19 years, I had never read these parables through the eyes of someone who had nurtured plants to life. Their images had been abstractions, ideas, metaphors with no roots. But now that those seeds have grown, I see each one anew. Perhaps you do too?

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The cover art for Sojourners' July 2023 magazine issue, featuring a black-and-white illustration of a theater screen with a circular, mesmerizing, and disorienting pattern. A lone person with long hair sits in one row with popcorn and a drink in hand.
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