As I walked down our hallway one evening, I noticed a small brown piece of rubbish on the blue carpet runner. A shirt button? Maybe a lump of mud from the garden? I bent to pick it up. It wasn’t part of the normal detritus that enters our house via shoes and paws. When I turned it over, its surface reflected the ceiling lights like fine diamond dust. Beautiful! It would make a nice addition to a pressed-flower picture. ‘What is it?’ I asked my husband. ‘A seedpod off the tree next door. I probably brought it in on my jacket’.
Aha! That’s where those seedlings originated. The seeds blew in and took up residence in our garden. I’d noticed the little plants before, and suggested Maurie could pot them up until they were ready to give to a friend who was establishing a larger garden. I’d thought they were weeds! Mmm – pittosporums. Producing seeds isn’t their only use. A step to our roof for the resident ringtail-possum is another! She’d probably knocked off a few pods to grow a garden for her descendants to use – they’re fast-growing trees! They’ve become popular hedge plants in our country, although their native home is New Zealand. Other pittosporum species hail from various parts of the world, but the first ‘James Stirling’ plant was brought to Australia by Frank Lucas in 1972, and in the years since then, he propagated hundreds of thousands of them. He named the original tree, but no-one seems to know who inspired him to give it that title. Maybe it was Sir James Stirling, the first Governor of the colony in Western Australia?
Regardless of its derivation, I couldn’t help reflecting on its dainty seeds. The pretty rosettes, with their shiny hidden depths, look as if someone has taken a fine brush, dipped it in lacquer, and flicked it onto them. The way they reflect the light reminds me of the words of Jesus to his disciples:
You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this; as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket do you? Now I’ve put you … on a light stand – shine! … be generous with your lives … you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven – Matthew 5: 14-16.
I’ve thought carefully about those words of Jesus. Surely he wasn’t telling them to brag about their good deeds so people would think they we’re great. Of course not; we’re not allowed to put ourselves on a pedestal. So I began at the end, where he said people would understand our Father in heaven when they saw our good works. How would they know to do that?
Well, if we’ve been talking to people about our Father in heaven, or praising him for what he’s done for us, and then we go on to do things for them that he likes to do, they can easily make the connection: he’s our father. All our good works are likes his great deeds: loving, kind, patient, gentle, faithfully creative, perfect for each person. There’s no purpose in walking around in the dark in this world. All those things light the way to a beautiful, light-filled life, so everyone knows where they’re going.
Like the pittosporum seeds that attract many birds, animals, and possibly bees, to their gleaming surfaces, we’re also meant to be productive, glittering and beautiful, showing people everywhere what God is really like.