At a basic level, plants symbolise life.
Years ago, in our college, there was a poster of a garden with colourful flowers and a quote: “Bloom where you are planted.” My classmate Ashok stuck a paper over it, saying: “Survive where you are stuck!” As 2020 slowly progresses with hopes and dreams, you can reflect on whether you’d like to blossom this year; or simply survive, stuck.
The UN has chosen 2020 to be the “Year of Plant Health” to increase awareness among the public and policy-makers of the importance of healthy plants and the need to protect them for promoting our life. Why not plant yourself in some garden, vegetable-patch or field to ponder over the potency of plants, as well as their plight — prone as they are to tiny pests and persons who destroy them?
At a basic level, plants symbolise life. In the Bible, a godly, good person is “like a tree planted beside streams of water, that yields its fruit in due season, and its leaves never wither.” So too the prophet Jeremiah proclaims, “One who trusts in God is like a tree planted by the water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green.”
Plants require healthy roots. The Moso bamboo does not show any growth at all for five years, despite careful watering and nurturing. Then, as if by magic, it begins growing at the rate of over two feet daily, reaching an incredible 90 feet within six weeks. You and I ought to sow good habits and pure intentions, though no apparent growth might be visible initially. Yet, our good habits, hard work, humility, love and generosity will surely take root to sprout into a fruitful future.
Plants signify fruitfulness. When Moses paints a picture of the Promised Land, he says: “God is bringing you into a land of wheat and barley, of vines, fig trees, pomegranates and olive trees.” Happy families are also seen as “flourishing like flowers in a field” with children “like plants fully grown”. The grapevine and vineyard also symbolise some characters described in the Bible.
Since symbols tend to be bipolar, plants can also become images of decay and death. The apostle James describes the “scorching heat of the sun which causes the grass to wither, the flowers to fade and beauty to perish”. Let’s protect plants as extensions of ourselves.
During this year of plant health, may we, first, remain healthy and happy. Second, may we sow plants and nurture nature as if she were our own mother. Third, may the fruits of our rootedness be savoured by all we meet. Remember, plants never stagnate. They either bloom or die. Let’s choose life.