Days later, after several more downpours, I passed my "weed" again, only to discover a tomato plant, several inches high. It looked healthy and even had a couple of blossoms here and there. I decided to leave it undisturbed and see what would happen.
Every day it grew a little more. When I compared it to another tomato plant in a nearby pot, I had to smile. It looked to be thriving. The plant in the pot? Not so much.
This week, my surprise growing from a crack in the bricks reaches half-way across the path leading to the back door. Not only does it display many blossoms but also little cherry tomatoes, some with a rosy hue. I can't wait to taste their sweetness.
I've done some thinking about this unexpected bit of garden, springing up in such an unlikely place . . . crowded in with little soil, behind the gate, with its stems spread in the direct path of passing feet and hurried exits. There is nothing ideal about this small space yet my tomato plant thrives day after day, about to yield fruit.
Life is seldom ideal. How many times do we find ourselves in a place we never intended? A place that doesn't seem suited for us? A place that feels crowded between immovable obstacles? We long for space to grow and an environment in which to thrive.
We're not alone.
Yet, have you noticed that the heroes we respect are seldom those people with perfect circumstances? Like my tomato plant, these role models are the ones who somehow live and grow in less-than-ideal circumstances. Time and time again, they overcome various obstacles. Theirs are the stories that inspire us and offer us courage.
Perhaps they have mastered the art of choosing to be positive and making it a practice to search for the bright side of life. It's likely they have learned to be content in whatever state they find themselves. Most importantly, they've honed the habit of thankfulness in every situation.
While our humanness and the reality of a fallen world get in the way of our ideals, one little tomato plant can serve as a wonderful reminder of what it means to thrive.