Plant Your Poinsettia
Yesterday I took this photo of the poinsettia in our yard. Every year about this time it explodes with the most radiant colors. It’s really the only clue in nature that it might be Christmas time in the tropics. The plant was a gift several years ago from a friend. It had been used to decorate the church for our annual Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. We asked our landlord if we could plant it. She said yes, but cautioned us not to let it grow out of control. Unknown to most, this plant can grow 13 feet tall (4 meters)!
The poinsettia (named for Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first US Minister to Mexico) is indigenous to Mexico. It became associated with Christmas in the 16th century. Legend has it that a poor girl (Pepita or Maria) had no money to buy a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. She was inspired by an angel to gather weeds and plant them in front of the church altar. As you might have guessed, the weeds became poinsettias. Later folklore says the star-shaped pattern of the leaves symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood of Jesus.
Here in Costa Rica it is not unusual to see massive poinsettias growing in yards, and along the roadways. The small, potted plants used to decorate churches and homes in the U.S. are but a token of this plant’s potential. In the right soil, with the right water and light, this “plant” becomes a shrub–a tree, even. But when kept in a pot sitting by the fire place, or on a shelf so dogs or babies don’t ingest the leaves, most poinsettias will experience a slow, withering death, and will be tossed out with the dry, dead Christmas tree sometime between December 26 and “whenever I can get a around to it.”
Experience has taught me that when I’m not firmly planted where I belong, and when I’m not being properly nourished, I cannot reach my potential either. It’s just impossible. As much as I might like it to be different, there is no getting around the fact that God has made us a certain way and we must live according to that way or we will never rise to become what He purposed us to become. As trite as it has become in Christian circles, its axiomatic–the believer needs the Word of God, prayer, worship, the fellowship of the saints, and the opportunity to serve and give. Without this environment, we will wither and die, and find ourselves on the curb of life waiting to be tossed in with the rest of the refuse.
Plant your poinsettia this year. Nourish it.