It was such an amazing sight. Somehow, sometime, a seed must have fallen to the chimney. Perhaps it was dropped from a bird, one way or another. I suppose it's possible that a strong wind, deposited a seed that has been traveling for miles. Regardless of how the seed arrived at this dark and abandoned location, it took root, sprouted, and grew.
Although it wasn't a particularly cold winter in New England, it was still cold. The stone that wrapped the chimney and protected it for years have lost any bit of heat that once rose through the darkness to the sky above. The darkness, the blackness of the creosote after years of carbon buildup, blocking any attempts for the light to permeate. The remains of the fuel that once protected the residents from the blizzards and nor'easters of the past. How is it possible that the beauty of nature can not only survive but thrive in this environment?
At a high level, the plant only needs a few things to live: certainly water, air, and nutrients. But the quality and amount of these nutrients can be critical. The air might not be as critical, so long as the temperature is within a sufficient range. This might be more challenging at the heights of Everest, but not so much in Providence, Rhode Island. The water can't be too much, so as to drown the seed or wash it away. Too little water and the seed will never germinate, or the plant will wither and die. Of course, there is a third component; the nutrients that feed the plant and enables it to reach towards the sky. As I write this, it doesn't seem that difficult to achieve these three goals. However, several plants of my past would vehemently disagree (if they were still around).
It must be so difficult for life to take hold in such a depressing situation. For something of beauty, that can create more beauty and life, to grow in such a bleak environment. As Master Masons, we can relate to such an analogy. In the darkness of our world, we still can plant our own seeds, and introduce some beauty into this world, of course, we must heed caution, and the four cardinal virtues can help guide us. If we focus, our own plants (our thoughts) can emerge from the darkest environments, but too much focus can cause drown them out, and prevent them from rooting.
As I continued to drive, my mind started to wander, as it tends to do, about the transformation of that seed into a plant. A plant large enough to be seen from the road. I can imagine that perhaps for a year, thousands of cars passed that plant. I was driving through the middle of Providence on Rt. 95 at approximately 55 miles per hour. I wonder how many fly right by, without looking up and contemplating this magical event. I don't fault them, as many of us progress through every day without noticing the sadness of a friend…we are all just too busy.
Obviously, this seemingly simple event made an impact on me. We all plant seeds each and every day, both in our minds and in the minds of others. The world appears so dark to me these days. The hoarding rooted in selfishness and the political cow patties over-fertilizing. What seeds will you plant?
Robert Edward Jackson is a Past Master and Secretary of Montgomery Lodge located in Milford, MA. His Masonic lineage includes his Father (Robert Maitland), Grandfather (Maitland Garrecht), and Great Grandfather (Edward Henry Jackson), a founding member of Scarsdale Lodge #1094 in Scarsdale, NY. When not studying ritual, he's busy being a father to his three kids, a husband, Boy Scout Leader, and a network engineer to pay for it all. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org