This week’s readings are filled with such beautiful imagery of flourishing trees and mighty plants. Tender shoots becoming majestic cedars. The just flourishing like palm trees. The smallest seeds springing up to become the largest plants. These images are so timely as they reflect this season of growth and abundance happening in our backyard gardens and farmer’s markets. And oddly, the words of this week’s scripture turn my thoughts to a harsh winter afternoon a few years ago.
I was making my way home from work and immersed in the grind of my regular brutal Metro commute. The doors of the 4:37pm train opened and I began the shuffle with my other surly commuters to the next leg of the journey. As I made my way across the train platform, I noticed a little boy and his mother falling into line with the pack. The boy was probably 3 or 4 years old. He was bundled up to his eyeballs given the bone chilling temperatures, that day and he had on the cutest little panda bear hat with a giant pom pom on top. He was a bright spot on a grey day. I gave a quick smile to the mom and then focused my eyes and mind back on my mission…getting home. A minute later I was making my way up the escalator when I felt something warm on my hand. Looking down, I was startled to find my panda hat wearing friend with his hand in mine. Panicked, I looked around for his mom and caught her eye a couple of steps behind me. She gave me a nod and let me know it was alright. She had him in her sight.
That little hand. I was so struck right there on that escalator of what an enormous “mustard seed” moment God was blessing me with. Within an instant of seeing that tiny hand in mine I was thinking about the gift of faith. Bundled from head to toe, with little mobility due to his layers of outerwear, he reached out his little hand in faith and with confidence his Mama would be there to grasp it in return. He had no idea I wasn’t his mom. He just reached up and held on. Riding to the top of the escalator hand in hand with this little guy, a question came to mind. Do I live with that kind of confidence in my God? My young friend didn’t hope there would be a hand to hold. He expected it. As I go through the ins and outs of my day, the highs and lows of life, the celebrations, the grieving, the frustrations, and the things that seem to be impossible…do I hope God will show up? Or do I expect to encounter Him in the midst of it all?
That little mustard seed moment on the train reminded me that God is here. It can be so easy to lose sight of that, but God is right here in the middle of it all. In our weakness and brokenness He will prune us and cut away what holds us back from flourishing. In our bigness and quest for more recognition and our turn in the spotlight He reminds us to be small and humble and rooted in Him. In our search for Him and our longing to know Him, He meets us on the train platform, the school cafeteria, in the small child, our families, and the beauty of the sacraments. He is here! May we grasp these moments of encounter with Him with the same confidence that little boy had in reaching out for a hand to hold. May we all have the courage to embrace each moment in our lives and say, “He is with me.”