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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.