A friend of mine, Jono Ingram in Australia, posted up a picture of an Avocado seed he had been nurturing for a couple months. The seed is golf-ball sized and is being held, half-submerged, in a glass of water by a number of toothpicks. From the bottom are several roots that have cracked through the hard shell and run down into the water, and from the top is a sprout, a small tree really, that shoots up about six inched. There are even a couple leaves coming out. It’s surprising and beautiful.
Jono wrote, “Love how there is so much life stored up in something we would normally throw away.” His words struck me as particularly true, and his cracking avocado seed demonstrated something remarkable about every moment and encounter with others. That seed, apparently dormant, had within it all the potential that an avocado plant needed to grow.
We had a similar experience this winter. We left a number of crocus bulbs buried in soil in a pot, and forgot about it in a dark storage room. When we found the pot, the bulbs had fully turned to flowering plants. Beautiful pink flowers and yellow sun-deprived leaves told a story of bulbs that carried the full potential of the plant, even without sun or water. It was amazing.
Whether neglected in the dark, or nurtured in a jar of water, bulbs and seeds are made to sprout, grow, and burst forth new life. They all carry potential to be more than they are. The word itself, ‘potential’ comes from the word ‘potis’ which means ‘capable’ and ‘possible.’ There is so much capacity and possibility stored in the most unlikely places.
If a seed or bulb contains enough potential to become a plant, whether nurtured or forgotten, I wonder where else we might find potential. Each neighbourhood is made up of people. People with capacities and possibilities; people with immense potential. They have potential to grow and thrive and become what they were created to be, and many do step out with the most amazing set of gifts and dreams and abilities to love and bless their world profoundly.
In the same way a seed was not meant to remain a seed, I wonder if a neighbourhood was never meant to remain a collection of houses and lawns. I wonder if the people in each neighbourhood are being invited to nurture something more.
My friend Jono tended to his seed. He kept it in a warm place, added water to the jar, and celebrated when it began to sprout. Every neighbourhood needs people who are willing to nurture and tend to their communities. These neighbourhood gardeners are those who see the potential – the capability and possibility – in others. They are those who believe there is more to come and that the story is not over.
When we found that pot of crocuses in the dark storage room, they were at the end of their life. In the dark they sprouted, grew, and we found them with most of their flowers falling off. We missed the show. My hope and prayer is that we would nurture the potential in our neighbourhoods, and that we would never miss the growth happening around us. We, too, might be surprised with what sprouts forth.