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The Advantage of a Botanist

We just hired a new associate pastor--Olive is her name, a remarkable woman from Illinois--who will lead our congregation in thinking of mission and outreach. Just a few days after Olive joined our staff, we took a staff retreat. Olive, like a curious child, exclaimed over the new vegetation. She'd been used to Illinois, and the San Diego desert was fascinating to her.

We had taken a break at one point in the day, and we were walking along a trail. Olive just kept stopping to say, "Would you look at this? What is this? What is that?" I didn't know. I have never taken the time to look that much at vegetation of any kind. I can point out a rose, a tulip, and a tree. And that's about it. But had Olive asked a botanist, that botanist would have said, "Oh, yeah, that's a ficus hydronicus andromyacin." (I just made up that name.) A botanist would have known because that botanist has just kept looking at those plants. While I've long since gone on and looked at other things, that botanist just keeps looking and learning.

I can enjoy the stars on a clear night. I look up at them, and occasionally I have the most mystical experience in the beauty of it all. When an astronomer looks at the skies, she can point out this constellation and that constellation and see a distant galaxy. She knows so much more than I'll ever know. Why? Because she just keeps looking at the stars when I've long since gone on to look at other things.

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