Growth—even in the shade

There's a bright side to difficult times.

My friends would not call me a nature lover. I've always felt more at home indoors, curled up with a good book. One of my favorites is Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy. It makes a statement about nature that I had always glossed over. "All nature teaches God's love to man . . ." (p. 326).  The full sentence reads, "All nature teaches God's love to man, but man cannot love God supremely and set his whole affections on spiritual things, while loving the material or trusting in it more than in the spiritual." Nature recently taught me a lesson about spiritual growth.

One day, I was listening to the public radio program, "Moment of Science." The speaker's comments about phototropism—the process in plants that causes them to turn to the light—reminded me of a scene years earlier. I had seen a field of sunflowers facing the morning sun. By late afternoon, as I returned home, the heads had turned completely toward the setting sun. Following those flowers' example of constantly seeking the light, I silently reaffirmed my desire to turn to the spiritual light of God for all my needs.

Then the speaker shared another aspect of phototropism that has caused me to think deeply about spiritual growth. While it seems that plants turn naturally toward the light, apparently the "motivation" on the part of some plants—particularly grasses—isn't so much an attraction to light, but rather "growth on the shady side," as the speaker put it. That's right. Growth actually takes place on the "dark" side of the plant that isn't facing the sun. This asymmetrical growth causes the head, or flower, to turn toward the sun. See Neil A. Campbell, Biology, 4th ed. (Menlo Park, CA: The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Co., 1996), p. 760 .

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July 10, 2000

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