As I walk to my car in the May sunlight, the blacktop is broken by patches of yellow as bright as tempera paint. The wind brings down a shower of tiny particles, landing on the golden dust already covering the cars. My eyes water.
Pollen season is here, and the pine trees are releasing clouds of what for them is the life-giving essence of the next generation. But for many of us, it is the heralding of allergy season. While white pine is not the cause of most of the allergies I experience, it reminds me of both the overwhelming productivity of plant reproduction and the cumulative impacts of sharing our testimony with others.
It’s easy to appreciate other plant parts, such as seeds and flowers. They’re common metaphors for new life and even represent the gospel in the biblical parable of the sower (Matt. 13). Mustard seeds represent the power of faith, the tiniest seed the ancient world could imagine. Likewise, flowers are more obvious, showy, easily appreciated as part of art and culture. In fact, the Jesus uses them as an illustration, saying, that we are to “see how the flowers of the field grow.” Although flowers do no work, we are told that “not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these” (Matt. 6:28–29). Pollen, on the other hand, is harder to get behind.
Today, however, we can see small objects magnified. If we were to collect some pollen of the white pines and observe it under a microscope, we might be astonished by the beauty and complexity of these minute forms. As perfect as tiny organisms, as complex as mineral sculptures that develop over millennia in hidden caves, pollen is an underappreciated creation that brings new seeds into the world.
What looked ...1