Everyone recalls the life science project in which a child takes an egg carton, a handful of beans, and some potting soil. The child fills the cups in the carton with soil and then pushes a bean directly into the center of each cup of rich dirt. Soil is carefully brushed over the top of each bean, and the child then selects the windowsill with the best direct sunlight on which to place the carton. Daily, a bit of water is added to the experiment, until to the child’s wonder and surprise shiny green bean stalks rise from the cups, a windowsill lesson in the miracle of life. Remember that project? In a huge city like Houston, and, indeed, in our increasingly urbanized world, this may be the closest to sowing the soil that many children will ever get. But even in miniature, the experiment teaches an important lesson about sowing: Everything is precious. The soil, the sunlight, the water, and especially the seed…nothing can be taken for granted. Each component, however small, is essential to the success of vitality, growth, and life.
Seventeen years ago on this very day, my wife was due to give birth. We were in Jackson, Tennessee; it was blazing hot; and Jill was ready to burst. We walked our neighborhood incessantly, hoping to entice and coax our firstborn child to make his entrance into the world. He was having nothing of it. Day after day, Jill and I walked. Day after day, the baby obstinately stayed put.