With no ridicule intended for my younger brother William, I christened the squash plant Bill. A short name that bursts out of the mouth seemed to fit a squash plant that appeared in my flower bed one day this spring, between the geranium row and the coleus and hosta section. He was only a few inches wide and really not in the way, so I gave him a free pass to live.
A few weeks later, I began to eye him with increased suspicion. He overtook the flowers in size and began to spread his leafy presence in a most disproportionate way.
Finally, with designs on his life, I walked toward the wood-bordered bed wearing gardening gloves. I grabbed him by the neck for the quick thrust which would end his life.
But for some reason, I released my hand and stepped back for a second look at the scene. He was taking over, and he really should go. On the other hand, he had survived the odds and the winter, and here he was.
“Train him to grow in the back of the bed,” Marnell suggested.
“He won’t like it back there under the porch,” I said. “He’ll just come back out to the sun.”
And so we stood and looked at each other, Bill and I.
I considered the five foot long bare space beneath the bed. To the left of the bare space, I planted geraniums close to the sidewalk. To the right of the bare space, the lawn sloped up to the dogwood tree next to the community garden. But here, a few feet beneath the bed, the cement was too high and the dirt too shallow, and nothing could be planted.
But Bill could spread out his vines there, in that empty space, if I left him live. He could even go around the corner into the lawn if necessary. Perhaps I could trim off the largest top leaves.
So, I gave him the chance to live another day.
I wonder how many times in my life I’ve been like Bill, landing in a place other than where God wanted me to be, and I justly could have been destroyed? How many times have I blundered and created a scene that threatened to mar the beauty around me, and I could have met a rightful end? How many times have I wanted to do my own thing, rather than fit in with the scheme of God’s plan?
And, instead of justice for me, Jesus came and died, and I was spared.
I’m not sure yet about Bill’s fate, but I wonder if I shouldn’t keep him, if for no other reason, to remind me of the mercies of God, new every morning. Bill would remind me that I too have been spared. Hope is restored because of what Christ’s death provides us: grace, the power to live above our past.