Aunt Marilyn gave us a Hibiscus plant, once. We sat it outside forgetting about the plant but speaking often about the generosity of the gift. I knew nothing of this transplant. I knew I enjoyed its beautiful spring colored blossoms, receiving their color as a sort of spring to my imagination. Oh, the color! Daily, these flowers would sprout to greet me, wilt in the evening, and fall asleep to the anticipation of new creation to come at dawn. A daily constant bloom.
It was wonderful for a week.
If thumbs can be gauged by metaphorical color, mine are a sort of dark brown. The type of color that is seen in compost. The type of color that is the product of death. That is, my thumbs kill things. Anyways, these thumbs didn’t touch that Hibiscus plant for days and thereby the Hibiscus plant took the shade of compost.
Truthfully, I appreciated the gift too much to let my ignorance ruin a good thing, so I learned the plant, rooting myself in the study of its roots. I learned its home and the habitat in which it flourishes. I learned soil and fertilizer and the daily conversation of water. I cut away the waste and placed it in the sun. Every day I came to greet the Hibiscus plant with a fresh drink of life. Together, we grew green.
The first Psalm is a preview of what is to come. The form of its praise will be repeated throughout the next 150 Psalms. The first one gives us a type of model for the spiritual journey. Advice for the contemplative. A foundation for the believer. If the scope of divine wisdom could be grasped by human beings and articulated in a succinct expression, it would be this Psalm.
Blessed are those who are planted in the word of God like the Hibiscus, receiving daily water, bearing much fruit, growing green with bursts of new life. Blessed are you who are planted in living water.
Of course, this passage is not the last we hear of this wisdom. The Psalmist will go on to praise the God of creation whose attributes and character can be learned by the earth. Its beauty and growth speak of the creative, loyal love of God for the world.
Even later, Jesus will echo the same reframe: blessed are you …
I can believe that Jesus was so intimately formed by his knowledge of scripture and the language of the Psalms that his poetic speech served the purpose of saying something like, “Blessed are you that are planted in me. I am the living water. If you drink of me, you will never be thirsty again.”
The earth is our home, but not our way. To live in its land without roots saturated in the waters of Christ is a treacherous path that leads to death and destruction. We will lose our life and gain the color of rot. Be careful not to forget your home and to learn the contents of its nurture. To be planted in Son of Man is to learn both our home and our way. It is to learn the Gospel of Life and the flourishing of Godly production, bearing the image of God daily. Rising to greet the world with fresh new color. Oh, the color of those who are planted in Christ!
Lead Pastor, New Beginnings Church