The little sprout threw its arms out towards the sun that streamed through the greenhouse window. It stretched its leaves and arched its stem and yawned deeply. “Hello small one!” the Gardener exclaimed! She was quite taken with this little sprout. “Welcome to a new day!”
“I’m ready to be planted!” declared the little sprout. The Gardener chuckled affectionately. “All in the proper time, my dear.” The little sprout stuck out its lip. “But why not now? I’m tired of this pot!” “Oh?” The Gardener feigned surprise. “I’m big enough to be in the real dirt! I can handle it!”
With loving care, the Gardener took the pot down from the shelf and opened the door. The direct sunlight felt good on the little sprouts leaves and it plumed them out like a peacock’s feathers. “Yes! This is it! This is the place for me!” The little sprout pointed down towards a very sunny patch in the middle of the garden. “Oh, you think so, small one?” The Gardener asked gently. “I could be a big, strong plant here!! I would grow so much fruit! I’d be the best, most fruitful plant in the whole garden, I would!” “But my dear, that’s not the place I have chosen for you. And this is not the time for you to be planted. We must wait.” “What about over there?” The sprout pointed to a spot by the garden hose. “If I was next to the water I could grow and grow and never be thirsty! What a plant I could be if I just lived by the water!” “You are a type of plant that does not require that much water. And besides, the hose is able to reach wherever I place you. Fear not.” “But your rules seem so restrictive and mean! Why do other plants get to grow as they will, but I’m still in this pot?!” “Other plants have other purposes and have been placed where they are meant to be. I planted them at a specific time so that their type of plant can flourish. But to put you there and to plant you now would not be an act of care. It would disregard the type of plant you are and what you were made to produce. In time, darling, you will see. You must trust that I have information that you do not have. Don’t worry. Trust me.”
After a few more weeks, though the sprout had grown to twice its size and was transplanted to a larger pot, it remained in the greenhouse. So, one night the sprout decided to leave. It lurched his pot to the edge of the counter one scoot at a time. “Once I’m out of this pot I can go plant myself where I want! Then I’ll truly be free!” With one final shove the pot toppled over the counter and crashed against the floor. The fall was much harder than the sprout had expected it to be. And since its roots were not yet strong, the sprout had to crawl out of the potting soil and made its way to the crack under the door. After much wiggling and pulling, the sprout popped out and rolled into the night air. It made its way past sleeping plants of various kinds. Hearty, mature plants that looked content and free. After much strain and exertion, it found its way to the spot it had so fancied from when the Gardener brought the sprout out a few weeks ago. The sunniest spot in the daytime. Where the sprout thought it could flourish most. The sprout pushed aside some dirt with its leaves and tried to stick its roots in a crack in the ground. The dirt was hard. And dry. The sprouts roots recoiled at the touch. Even though it was night, the soil burned with a heat the sprout did not expect… or like. Not at all. This place looked much different from the safety of the little pot in the hands of the Gardener. The sprout decided to try for the second spot by the garden hose. But by now its stem was drooping, and its roots were drying. The sprouts crawl lessened to a drag. It finally reached the garden hose and stuck its roots into the mud and felt instantly refreshed. “This is it!” The sprout declared. But then, after a few minutes the sprout felt sick. Logged with too much moisture. Filled too full and yet the sprout kept absorbing water molecules. It scrambled as best it could out of the mud, but this was no easy task. Each inch was hard fought and took all its strength. The sprout collapsed on a rock when it reached the edge of the mud. Its energy spent, its willpower sapped, and its determination gone, the sprout cried softly. Regretting its venture. Wondering what was wrong with it? Why wasn’t it as strong as the plants by the sunny spot? Or as rich as the plants by the garden hose? Why wasn’t it one of them? Why couldn’t it flourish where they were planted? What would become of it now?
The Gardener came to check on her plants early the next morning as she always did and gasped in horror at the sight of the sprout stretched on the ground, nearly dried up and spent. She scooped it up, carefully placed it in a new pot, gave it fresh dirt, and lovingly nursed it back to health.
When the time was finally right, the Gardener took the young plant out of the greenhouse and dug a hole next to a trellis. It was in a corner, somewhat out of the way and a little out of sight. The young plant felt sad that it wouldn’t be more out in the open but accepted its given place. For weeks after it was planted, it had trouble staying upright. The young plant would flop over and struggle to lift itself. The Gardener came with some twine and tied parts of its stem to the trellis. The young plant was ashamed that it could not stand on its own. But the Gardener tried to assure the young plant that this was natural for the type of plant that it was and that everything would be ok. Over time the vine grew to accept that it would never stand on its own or fan outward like the other plants. And what fruit that did grow on the vine was small and strange colored. Not bright orange and big like the pumpkin plants. Not tall and slender like the corn stalks. Not even beautiful and plump like the tomato plants. No, the vines fruit was small and purple, and it shriveled if left in the sun for too long. What use was it? But the vine knew that its discontentment as a sprout had produced nothing more than a horrific night, one from which it may have not returned. The vine chose to lay down these feelings of frustration and inadequacy and chose to just be who it was made to be.
The vine grew and grew, up and through and around and over and under the trellises. Leaves stretched, clusters of fruit grew and hung and were harvested. It hurt a little each time a cluster was cut, but next year another would typically grow back in its place. Sometimes the vine would see the Gardener take its fruit, put it in a wash tub and step on it over and over and over again. This hurt the vines heart. Why would the Gardener do this to the fruit that took so much attention and care to produce? What was the point of it all if the fruit was just going to be trod upon? But then the vine could see that the Gardener would drain the juice into containers, and as she carried them to the house she would often turn back and proudly wave at the vine. The vine didn’t understand but knew that the Gardener was good. The vine chose to believe that the Gardener had not gone through the work of caring for the little sprout and bringing it back to health and planting and pruning and guiding the vines growth all this time for nothing.
For years and years, the vine flourished and produced beautiful grapes that were, among other things, harvested, pressed, poured out, and served in the communion at the little church up the road.
The featured image of the Sprout is (c) Lancia E. Smith and used with glad permission for The Cultivating Project.
The beautiful image of the Glory Vine is (c) Adam R. Nettesheim and used with his permission for The Cultivating Project.
Adam is a vagabond of the arts. He is an animator by training, a media specialist by vocation, a church arts project coordinator by choice and a writer by hobby. Though he “still hasn’t found what he’s looking for”, in his wandering through the arts he has found the firm conviction that God has been writing His story through our stories since the beginning, and He’s not done yet. Adam is also a contributor to the ministry “God Thru the Arts” and is slowly working at his own passion project “The Witness Cloud” – which explores the stories of those listed in Hebrews 11, and seeks to find the “True Myths” that also point to God through the human journey using the arts. Adam and his wife Sarah have 3 children and live in Northern Colorado. His artistic interests range from G.K. Chesterton to Looney Tunes. Follow Adam on Instagram here.