03 August 2005

Ah, the strangler fig. It's better than a hypotenuse.

You've got to love symbiosis: all an ecosystem's components working essentially and thoughtlessly together for a gorgeous whole. Like the Trinity, and like the Church ought to be. Take for biological example the Amazonian environment that brings us the Brazil nut tree. PBS recently featured a show on just that.

The destructive force of the strangler fig captivated me most here. How susceptible the Brazil nut trees are to those strangler figs: seeds left as if by accident send inevitably malignant roots down the bark, taxing its host of all nutrients to parasitically swell itself. Only after decades of slow growth does the end become apparent: the original tree has completely disintegrated, but the vines stand as a stoic shell.

PBS says the fig looks then "like a hollow monument to this epic struggle," but I disagree: the tree never put up a fight but just got overtaken by a slow and deadly constriction. The human heart can similarly find an inevitable end, especially under the strangle hold of worry. Only the powerful theology of God’s nearness can nip that anxious vine from our hearts.

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