Manna From Heaven, Food From the Ground: A Reflection on My Desert Garden
Though I became a convert to Catholicism as an adult, I enjoyed the blessing of parents who raised me in their Methodist faith, one for which I have tremendous respect and fondness. This entailed not only Sunday school each week, but later, two years of study prior to confirmation and each summer… Vacation Bible School.
I never liked Vacation Bible School. I thought it was terribly unfair to be expected to go to school and sit in a Sunday school classroom for two weeks while Mrs. Lauterbach kept us busy all morning making shapes for the younger kids’ flannel boards and planting marigold seeds in Dixie cups to surprise our mothers. My mother was surprised when her marigold actually came up—as neither she nor I bothered to water it once it was planted.
One day in the fourth grade during Vacation Bible School we were studying the story of Moses and his people wandering in the desert and I became captivated by the concept of manna from heaven. Mrs. Lauterbach got bombarded with all kinds of truly unfair questions but fourth graders can be relentless in terms of needing to know whether this manna was more like French fries or green beans, an important thing to know if you’re going to be wandering a long time. I don’t remember what her answers were but I suspect she assured us that God gave the Israelites everything they needed to survive. I secretly continued to hope that manna could assume various forms; bologna sandwiches (my favorite) one day, scrambled eggs and toast the next.
The miracle of “manna from heaven” became a favorite story of mine, along with its promise that God knows what we need and provides it. I have been accused of sometimes interpreting things too literally but the Bible clearly states that manna came down from heaven, and Christ himself tells us he, too is manna from heaven. Do you believe it actually happened?
I do. I believe it wholeheartedly and I see it every day in my desert garden. Just now there is something dark green, hard, the size of a golf ball, stuck to the tree outside my window – well, there are dozens of them. With a little sun, water, and time, it’s going to be an apricot. My talented husband planted some artichokes a few years back and even though everyone told us they wouldn’t thrive here, I’m frantically writing my friends asking them how to preserve the dozens of chokes which will suddenly be squirting from our three plants. My mother’s voice, not Mrs. Lauterbach’s, echoes in my mind: “It’s a sin to waste food.” Indeed, it is, and what we don’t preserve, we will share in our community.
God’s many miracles are so abundant that too often we neglect to see them, be in awe of them, and reflect on His love for us. If you can’t believe in the miracle of manna from heaven, just look around. Manna from heaven: food from the ground. Taste and see!
Liese Peterson lives in Nevada with her husband and three swimming dogs. She is an international businesswoman and enjoys writing about her experiences as a convert to Catholicism.