Dropping off some of my daughter’s things at her college apartment, I have asked her to come with me to a nearby arboretum, so that we can do one of our favorite things together: wander in nature and take photos. We’ve been here several times, but we find new sights on every visit.
Today, it is this plant, growing in a small pond. I learn it is the aptly named mosaic plant, native of South America. I am astounded by the beauty of its interlocking rosettes, each with dozens of small, diamond-shaped leaves.
The complex pattern suggests a verse I’ve been musing on:
in him all things hold together. Col. 1:17
On the surface of things, it’s hard to see that truth in the world around me. So much in our age seems to be pulling apart. There are the larger schisms of political parties and reactions to the pandemic. But the disintegration gets more granular when we view how individualized morality has become – as in Judges 17:6, everyone does “what is right in his own eyes.”
Ours is the Age of the Individual Agenda. How can there be a shared sense of community when each of us is seeking his own good?
Isolation is another kind of fragmentation. Spending most of my waking hours alone, I often feel disconnected from that larger design. I am a little outpost of personal faith, looking for a way to reconnect.
I think we underestimate the isolation that people, even Christians, feel. Covid is one cause, but so is the difficulty of finding true community in many churches.
The nickname for the mosaic plant pithily sums this up. False loosestrife. When we concentrate on either societal fragmentation or individual isolation, we’re looking at false, individual strife -- the angst that comes from purposeless pieces.
We overlook the bigger pattern. Paul has that grander vision in view in the verse above. Jesus is what one commentator calls “the true principle of coherence.” He is the unity in all the diversity. His presence and purpose runs through all of history – our present age included.
He is the “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4:5) that unites us.
When I look at the whole of this plant, it’s undeniably beautiful. Startling, even. And so is the greatness of the Kingdom Jesus is building around himself. “Mosaic” is an apt word, as well. All the little pieces, united into a purposeful array, make something astonishing to behold.
My life is just one small part of the mosaic. But as Jesus places it into his plan and holds it in place, it becomes part of something so much greater than I could ever do on my own.
Forgive us, Lord, for looking at the pieces around us and missing the pattern. You are that pattern, for in you all things hold together. And in you, we each become part of something beautiful you are creating.
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