Oh really?

Begonias are one of my favorite flowers. They tolerate the hot, humid weather of our local climate well; but they do not do well if over-watered. Begonias thrive best in lots of sunlight, but they will tolerate some shade for at least a part of the day. I always buy established plants from a local greenhouse and plant them in pots in various locations around our house. I have never tried to grow begonias from seed because I have heard that it is challenging. Everything I have ever read about growing begonias from seeds says the best way to start them is indoors with the seeds just scattered on top of a fertile growing medium. Having a strong light and being able to control the temperature and the amount of time the seeds get light is highly recommended to successfully get the seeds to germinate and thrive.

Begonia photo by Brenda Hopf

Oh really? Tell that to the begonia that emerged from the crack between our concrete driveway and the north-facing side of the brick retaining wall that extends from our garage. What is amazing is that the begonia that germinated in this crack had to be from the previous growing season since I did not have any of this particular variety of begonia planted at our house this summer. Obviously, this begonia seed didn’t get the memo about the difficulty and challenges of growing begonias from seeds. Despite being on the north side of the wall with no sunlight, the begonia defied the odds and flourished nonetheless, even though the sun never shined on it – and despite the fact that I did not water or fertilize it.

As I backed from the garage to head to work each day and turned to head up the driveway, my headlights shined on this little miracle that had emerged in a very unlikely place. One cold, rainy morning in mid-November I was so mesmerized by the sight of this little miracle that was still alive and blooming, that despite the cold and rain, I stepped out of my vehicle to take the picture you see with this column.

At that moment, I realized this begonia had a purpose, as it gave me a pleasing visual each morning as I headed to work. It was a little beauty that had emerged humbly behind a retaining wall where no one else could see it, but it brought simple joy to me as I headed to work each morning.

Humble beginnings are something we should all be very familiar with this time of year. It was just a couple of weeks ago that we celebrated the humble beginning of Jesus’ earthly life. Born in a place that no one would recommend for the birth of a baby, not only did Jesus thrive, but His humble birth did not stop Him from accomplishing his mission – saving the world from sin and death so we could live forever with Him in heaven. Through this humble beginning, Jesus showed us the way to live and what we are capable of doing. He has asked us, every single person on this earth, to follow His lead. Jesus needs our help to spread His Word and His love to the whole world.

If you are like me, it can be a real struggle to believe you could be that person that Jesus depends on to make a positive difference in this world. When I look at the big picture and see the whole world and all the needs of all the people, I find it hard to believe that I could in any way make a difference. After all, I just work in a factory, live in a small neighborhood in the country and lead a very low-key lifestyle. What difference could I really make? Do you feel the same? Do you, like me, feel that the odds are against us to be successful in what Jesus has called us to do by His example?

Oh really? Tell that to the Apostles who came from a plethora of backgrounds, none of which were particularly noteworthy. Like the volunteer begonia seed in the crack, the “seeming” odds were against them. I guess they didn’t get the memo. With faith and trust in Jesus’ plan for them, they spread the Christian faith—to the whole world. It started with Jesus, then the Apostles, one person at a time, each one spreading it to another and another, all the way down to you and me.

This passing on of the Christian faith has gone on for centuries. It has been done most often by people whose witness comes from humble backgrounds with “seeming” odds against them, one person at a time. Do you still believe you can’t make a positive difference in passing on the Christian faith? If, like me, you got that memo, let’s throw it out. Let’s emerge like a begonia seed from a cold, dark crack and, with guidance from the Holy Spirit, meet the challenge. Let’s do our part for Christianity, one person at a time.

Brenda Hopf is a member of Divine Mercy Parish in Dubois County and also contributes to the “Sharing the Load” column in The Message.