Saturday, July 6, 2013

I say tomato, you say "what is that smell?"

Saturday. Sofa. Coffee.

I was walking around the back corner of my mother's house to check on a leak in the sewer pipe that runs through the yard..  The plumber had come and unblocked the line, but the leak has not yet been repaired.

There was a thriving, creeping, lush, verdant tomato vine full of small green fruit and pale yellow blooms.

Growing out of the sewage. Not the edge of the sewage. Out of the hole that went to the leak.

I felt a surge of hope.  As well as a weird curiosity as to whether I could ever allow myself to eat any of the tomatoes that it is producing.

It is easy to find leaky sewage . . . you might not see it but you can smell it whether you want to or not. Turning your head away doesn't help once you've caught the scent.   A steady drip, drip, drip from a sewage pipe under a house or mobile home will slowly rot the joists on which it rests.  Sewage oozing openly through ditches or down alleys or streets breed deadly or debilitating disease.   It is easy to be discouraged by the messes that seem to surround us these days, that threaten to rot our foundations and weaken our being.

And then a tomato vine shows up.

Have you ever seen a tomato seed?  Probably not, unless you are a farmer or an avid gardener. Or unless you have looked at sliced tomatoes and wondered if those little bitty whitish-yellow specks were seeds. You would be right about that.

When I first saw the sewage leak, and smelled it, before the plumber came and unblocked the line, it was nothing but disgusting.  I will spare you the description.

And yet, even when I was certain that there was nothing redeemable in that sickening mess, the tiny tomato seeds were there, dormant.  Dormant, and yet full of life, waiting for the proper conditions to cause them to explode into being.

And so it happened.  The conditions were right. Everything came together for the tiny seeds. Everything they needed to become a beautiful, lively productive vine.  It all became perfect.

In the cesspool of a sewage leak, stinking to high heaven in the hot summer sun..

So, there's a lot of ways this parable could take me, and maybe it will on another day. But for this day let me just say, when you find yourself in the middle of a bunch of crap, do not despair. Consider what God did for the insignificant tomato seed.

Amen and Amen.

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