This is Just How God Made It

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And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.

—1 Corinthians 15:37-38

My five-year-old was recently playing beneath the pine tree in our front yard when he brought me a pinecone from the ground. “Look!” he said, with a note of distress. “This pinecone is dead!”

“Oh, honey, it’s not… dead, exactly,” I said, trying to dredge up my scant knowledge of plant biology and translate it into preschool-speak. “This is just how God made it.” That wording is a common phrase in our house, when the kids notice something specific about their body or about someone we meet out in the world: “This is how God made your/their body. Bodies are cool!” 

It’s not dead; it’s just how God made it. I wonder now if those statements actually actually contradict or if they can stand next to each other in simple truth. Can the pinecone look “dead” and be exactly what God made it to be? God did indeed create this pinecone to fall to the ground, to be buried in the earth. But death isn’t what I think of when I hold it in my hand. I think of life—of the tree that let the pinecone fall, and the new tree it could grow into if given the chance. 

Inside the pinecone God has encoded everything needed for the body of the pine tree—its vanilla-scented sap, its puzzle-piece bark, its long green needles, its strong resilient trunk—unseen yet present. When God looks at us, what glory does God see, as much grander as the pine tree is from the pinecone? 

Of course, maybe this is a bit too much talking about death for the Easter season. Seems like we had forty days of that topic already, beginning on Ash Wednesday when we remembered together that our bodies will return to the dust. But that remembrance is also the seed of Easter joy. We who are buried with Christ in baptism are also, right now, sharing in his resurrection. God has made us each with our particular wonderful body, and the promise of the glory to come is encoded in us even today.

— Margaret Ellsworth

Photo: “Pinecone Glory” by Alex Holt on Unsplash

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