People taking a stroll through my parents’ yard would see various kinds of plants, trees, and flowers they have planted over the 41 years they have owned their property. There are many varieties of daylilies, hydrangeas, azaleas, various kinds of roses, marigolds, irises, a honeysuckle vine, amaryllises, hundreds of liriope plants lining various flower beds, sago palms, crape myrtles, a grapevine, a scuppernong vine and pecan trees giving shade around the property.
While visitors may enjoy the beauty of their yard, especially when the
flowers are in season, it is not possible for them to know the genesis of each plant. Most would assume they came from the home and garden center at Lowes or Wal-Mart or a popular nursery or landscaping business. This yard is old school. It is populated with plants the way yards used to be populated with plants, before it was easy to purchase plants at a store or when people even had extra money to do that sort of thing.
Take the grapevine, for example. My Aunt Joyce and Uncle Lindsey brought a cutting from my Uncle Lindsey’s home place in Uriah, Alabama over sixty years ago. It was rooted and planted between the chicken house and the cow pasture fence and yielded many jars of grape jelly, which ended up between my grandmother’s biscuits, which she baked fresh each morning.
Mom and Dad brought a cutting from my grandparents’ house up the road six miles to their home and planted it about thirty years later. Today it’s still making grapes. Who knows where the vine came from to my Uncle Lindsey’s people in Uriah? But it came from somewhere, handed down to them, just like it was to us.
Once my mother and father were driving past Florence Caraway’s house, a country neighbor, and Mom noticed her beautiful red rosebush in full bloom and asked my dad to stop. She spent a few moments talking to Mrs. Florence about her beautiful bush. Mrs. Florence said, “You can have a cutting if you want it.” So my mom cut off a small piece of the bush and brought it home and put it in water until it began to grow roots. Once there were enough roots, she planted it in her yard. Today, people can admire her beautiful bush just like she once admired the one in Florence Caraway’s yard.
This is the way people used to populate their yards with beautiful flowers, shrubbery, and trees. They went for a visit to see relatives or friends or passed by the home of a stranger and they brought back something for their yard.
My parents’ yard sings this song from every corner. Every plant is a different verse of the same song. The white rosebush came from my granny’s house (my mother’s mom) given to Mom before Granny died. Granny got a cutting from Aunt Kate and Uncle Alley who lived about a mile up the road from them.
The running roses that grow over the gazebo grew
wild beside the road and my dad brought a cutting to my mom when he was working on a road project with the State Highway Department over thirty years ago. Dad also brought her the amaryllises from Gordon, Alabama where he once worked. He spotted them in a woman’s yard and stopped and asked for a cutting.
The honeysuckle vine planted at the Gazebo is a gift from her brother Joe. The white roses that grow where the pool once was came from Aunt Mildred Green’s home place. The daylilies are transplanted from Oklahoma, a gift from Rhonda Hinson, who met her husband Homer who traveled there on a mission trip.
Every year when these flowers bloom, when the grapes come in season, my parents see more than just the beauty from these plants; they see relationships. They feel love from those people the plants are connected to. They see the people they have known that have passed on a cutting and shared some of their beauty, which my mom and dad have now shared with others.
In the Bible, the Apostle Paul writes a letter to a young man named Timothy. Paul could not think about Timothy without also thinking about his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois. “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:2 NIV).
A little cutting of Lois’ faith was watered and then it took root in her daughter Eunice. Then a little cutting of Eunice’s faith was watered and it took root in her son Timothy.
Notice, there’s no mention of any great Rabbi or “mega-synagogue,” No, no. This is old school religion, the kind where people watch what you do and learn from your ways. When they see that you are living a joy-filled, abundant life, and admire the grace-giving God who makes that kind of life possible, then it’s just natural to say, “Well, you can have a little cutting if you want it.”
That’s one way we share Jesus. And the faith lives on.