How many of you have specific events that are a yearly marker in the journey towards spring? I have several. My computer currently has a browser open counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until the First Day of Spring. The start of Daylight Savings is marked on my calendar with a picture of the sun, flowers, and butterflies. But the earliest—and always completely unplanned—marker of spring’s coming is the First Annual Seed Sighting.
Each year I’m usually wandering through a store, deep in thought, as I shop for some random item. There is usually some degree of winter slump to my shoulders and a frigid funk weaving its way through my mind. Then suddenly and without warning, I turn a corner and come face to face with seeds!
I am a firm believer that on occasion, the heavens genuinely do open and angels sing as glistening shafts of light float down from above. The first annual seed sighting seems to be solid proof of this reality. What is it about a seed that brings such awe and wonder? For me, Hebrews 11:1 sums it up: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
How can a tiny seed represent so much? Some seeds are so small that it’s completely unimaginable that they could ever amount to anything. One example of this is the petunia seed. Every year as I scatter these tiny black dots, I’m perplexed at how something smaller than a fleck of pepper can turn into a plant. Not only will this little dot sprout and grow roots, but it will have a stem and leaves with veins, and produce beautiful flowers. I particularly love the Wave Petunia variety. Given the right environment, the plant will vine and spread out several feet in diameter and generate hundreds of blossoms during the growing season.
To examine at a more complex level the faith and hope that comes in a seed, consider this Wave Petunia variety that I love so dearly. For a Petunia to be considered a true Wave variety, it must come from patented Wave Petunia seeds. As a home grower, you can purchase these seeds at a premium price compared to regular petunia seeds or buy live plants that are certified as a Wave variety. I usually choose to buy a few live plants—this is mostly because I’m impatient and the plants will provide me with earlier blossoms while I’m waiting on last year’s seeds to mature enough to bloom.
As a gardener, I can never escape how significantly gardening mimics life. It is a wonderful parallel that fills me with awe and reverence.Gina Sutphin
Then every year in the fall, at the end of the growing season, I make the choice to let my purchased plants go to seed. The following year, the seeds that sprout from last year’s plants exhibit a new level of complexity. Now, a Wave Petunia is a genetically engineered plant, developed to give a specific result. It comes in many options: solid colors, star patterns, brilliant hues or pale palettes. (My personal favorite is the Plum Vein. Its petals are a lovely medium plum shade, but the center of the blossom and all of the veins are a deeper shade of purple.)
However, when you make the choice to let hybrid vegetation go to seed, you will not get a plant that matches its parent. In this scenario, plants become more like people. The offspring do resemble their parents in certain ways, but are not identical copies. Seeds from the Plum Vein usually result in plants offering an assortment of blossoms in various shades of purples, neon fuchsia, and pale pinks.
Although this particular option creates an unknown result, it still begins with the hope and belief that it would produce something beautiful, even though it’s impossible to know exactly what the outcome will be. As a gardener, I can never escape how significantly gardening mimics life. It is a wonderful parallel that fills me with awe and reverence.
Every year, when this glorious first seed sighting happens, it truly feels as if the world stands still for just a moment. No matter what haze was filling my mind a moment earlier, it seems as if a fresh breeze of clarity begins to rattle the cobwebs loose. And as that happens, the truth begins to filter in again, the always reliable truth that no matter how cold and dark the winter feels, there is always hope. Spring will always come, the snow will always melt, and new beginnings will poke their tiny heads up through the mud no matter how deep it’s become.
So for a moment each year I stand still, taking in the glory of this hope, this potential. Then, standing a little taller, with a bit of the icy burden melted away, I continue on my journey and make my way to the cash register. This marker of spring cannot be added to the calendar or anticipated with a countdown. Nonetheless, it always seems to find me at just the right time, exactly when it was needed, and without warning.
Where there is a seed, there is potential. And where there is faith in that potential, there is hope.