Thursday, December 23, 2021

Seeds, Jonas Salk, and Repairing the World

 I marvel at seeds. They're so small, and yet they hold so much inside them.

They're almost magical to me. They come in different sizes, but their size is not always reflective of what is inside of them and what will eventually grow from them. All seeds remind me of the story of the mustard seed in the bible: A very small seed that grows into a very large tree. The story is about having faith. It's about a tiny seed growing into something so big. The story tells us if we had a tiny bit of faith, we could do big things.

I think all seeds have a faith story. Seeds are so inspirational to me. I don't like to take them for granted. Their abilities are so far reaching, considering how they begin their lives. First, they're plugged an inch or two into the earth, literally covered and lost in dirt. Next, they're watered, day after day, drowned under the dirt they've been pushed into. Then, the sun does its part, warming the earth the seeds are compacted down into, encouraging the seeds to magically shed their outer shell. It's as if the sun is in on the secret. Finally, and hopefully, the little seeds grow, pushing their roots down deeper into the soil and reaching their stems up slowly, escaping from their earthly entrapment.

Why? Because seeds have something to do. It's a type of resurrection, really. These tiny lifeless seeds become full of life! They must be put into the ground in order to come to life! It's beautiful, isn't it? And very reflective of another story in the bible about resurrection, but that story is for another time.

Seeds remind me that even little things matter. Seeds have purpose. They have goals. They need help attaining their goals, but once that help is given, seeds give back in abundance.

As it often happens, I am learning lessons in my garden again. My little seeds are teaching me about faith and setting goals...

Setting goals are important, and, like seeds, most times, we need help achieving the goals we set for ourselves. Having faith in what you want to accomplish and setting a goal to get there gives us purpose. It also helps identify who we are in the world. Goals and accomplishments are a way to leave your mark, something that says, "I was here, and I did this," very similar to what a seed does. Having faith and setting goals can help us keep our focus on just what is most important. Without focus, we lose our way. A tomato seed doesn't grow a carrot. A tomato seed grows a tomato.

Then, when ripe, that tomato is picked and used in a salad or on a hamburger, maybe a tomato pizza! That one tomato is for someone to enjoy. That tomato is not supposed to be kept on the vine. Having goals can be similar. "I was here, and I did this... for you." Reminds me of yet another bible story about not hiding your light under a bushel basket.

We all know doing for others is a great goal.

I have received the COVID-19 vaccination, the Pfizer version. I've also recently received the booster. Getting the vaccine was a goal of mine. It was an attainable goal, one I knew I'd be able to accomplish, eventually. And I did, like so many others. Getting vaccinated was something I did for myself, but I also knew that in my doing, I was contributing to a bigger picture. I was helping others around me, helping the world, in the grand scheme of things. We need to get passed the pandemic, and we're getting there. More and more people are getting vaccinated. I think the future looks good for all of us, because of the vaccine. Our lives are so much better than just a year ago. Families are celebrating Christmas together without the use of a computer screen. It's all good. The vaccine is good.

I'm a big believer in vaccines. I became more of a believer after having my children. I learned a lot about vaccines raising my kids. Talk about setting goals! Having a child does something to you practically overnight with ideas of setting goals, and vaccines play a big part. As a parent, you really do want the best for your child. That requires setting attainable goals and meeting them, like getting your child properly vaccinated so they won't have certain diseases in their future. As a parent, you are always doing for someone else. You are doing for your child, each and every day. You're setting attainable goals and setting examples you hope they will follow. You want your kids to grow up and help contribute to the bigger picture and the grand scheme of things. After all, your kids are your future. It's your example they will learn from. It's your future you are forming for yourself through them.

After receiving my first vaccine, I started reading about the different COVID vaccines that were available. I read about the Pfizer vaccine, particularly, since that is the vaccine I received. Then, as is the way when one Google search leads to another, I eventually stumbled upon an article about Jonas Salk, the doctor and scientist who developed the first safe and effective vaccine for polio. Dr. Salk was a very fascinating person. He was well-known and even famous for developing the vaccine for polio, but he was perhaps less famous or even known for his total concern for humanity except by those closest to him. Jonas Salk was born with a goal: To better the lives of suffering humans. As I read about Dr. Salk, I learned he was driven to do good for people. As a child he had been extremely affected by seeing so many of his friends suffer during the 1918 influenza pandemic. It might have been the beginning of his desires to help people. His older brothers would call him "Little Jesus" because Salk would pray that he would one day do something good for people. He had aspirations of being somewhat of a savior.

"Little Jesus" is a funny nickname, as Jonas Salk and his family were Jewish. In the Jewish faith, many people, including Jonas Salk and his family, believe that acts of goodness define a person. Salk was raised with the morals of "ma'asim tovim" and "tikkum olam", which is Hebrew for "good deeds" and "repairing the world." No wonder Dr. Salk was so accomplished and able to help others!

How do I begin writing about seeds and wind up writing loquaciously about Dr. Jonas Salk? I suppose it comes down to doing good in the world, particularly doing good for others. 'Tis the season to do good for others! If you haven't done so already, set a goal, give yourself a gift that can also be shared with so many others. Get vaccinated. And when you do, think of Dr. Salk and his morals of good deeds and repairing the world. 

Merry Christmas! Peace on earth... because of people with goodwill!

Who knew Dr. Salk had so much in common with a seed!

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