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This is your source for NPR author interviews, recent broadcasts from the Traverse City National Writers Series, and IPR's radio series Michigan Writers on the Air. You can also find NPR authors & interviews here.

Essay: God's Begonia

I never expected to be doing missionary work, hampered as I am by doubt in the existence of God. It began when our book group met at a church and I discovered a gorgeous huge begonia in the hallway.

Plucking off two shiny leaves, I stashed them in my purse. They refused to root in water (protesting my theft) so I stuck them a pot of dirt. Then my daughter was diagnosed with cancer just as she became engaged to be married.

“What kind of God would do this?” I raged. Not any kind I could believe in.

So, I put my faith in modern medicine and human love—and we kept planning the wedding. In the morning, I took Sara to treatments, in the afternoon to dress fittings. And meanwhile, on my windowsill, a tender green leaf pushed up alongside the stolen ones. I wept to see it.

“It could be a coincidence,” I thought, “or it could be a sign.”

Slowly, slowly, Sara was getting well. That was many years ago now and she is fine, married to the same good man and working happily as a librarian.

People sometimes ask about the enormous plant in my living room.

“It’s God’s Begonia,” I tell them, “and it’s taken over my life.”

From its leaves I have started dozens of other plants, which I give away to anyone who needs a gift of healing. Recipients tell me that they, too, give away plants. So the missionary work continues, taking root in different pots, different windows.