Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Teachings from Toadstools

Photo: "Ring of Mushrooms" by Maria Keays

What's with all the toadstools lately? A casual stroll down your road or a drive down the street reveals that many lawns have cropped up with toadstools. From tiny to massive, these fantastic fungi have taken over our area. Has your area been overrun as well? Where did the come from? It looks like they sprang up overnight.

Cultures around the world have mythologies about mushrooms, especially when they appear in circles, or "fairy rings." Some attribute their presence to the footprints of fairies, the will of gods, and omens of the future. While I don't subscribe to these views, I do believe we can learn a spiritual lesson from these toadstools.

In a fairy ring, what seems to be a circle of individual toadstools is actually one single organism. Each toadstool is only a manifestation of that one organism. Many fairy rings have been thought to be up to 600 or 700 years old. (For more information than you ever wanted on fairy rings, click here.) In the same way, we know that each of us is interconnected. The Bible says that each Christian is only part of the body of Christ. You may look at a person and think you see an individual, but what you're seeing in reality is a manifestation, or a part, of the single organism of Christ. It is God who connects us all.

One of my least favorite songs of all time is "It's a Small World After All." Unfortunately, the song's true. We can't go anywhere or talk with anybody without encountering another aspect of the same organism we're part of--God. "In Him we live and move and have our being."

Today in a restaurant I encountered two women who really bothered me. Between them they had three children who were running around, being loud and raucous. Of course, you can't blame the 2 and 3 year old children. The women were shouting at the children, using profanity, calling them monsters, devils, and worse. I was angered and disturbed by these people at the table next to me, and wanted to fuss at these women for their behavior toward their children. But then I thought of the toadstools. We're all connected. What you do to one affects everyone.

So instead I decided to be an encouragement. I smiled, admitting that sometimes I get frustrated with my children too. I told them that their children really were little angels--even if they weren't acting like it at the moment. This started a 20-minute conversation about child rearing, and the entire tone of the afternoon changed.

So the next time you feel like stomping someone like a toadstool, remember that they're one of God's precious people. Remember that we're all connected. There's more than just fairies in this ring. There's the Spirit of God.

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