I was getting out of my car recently and happened to glance down at the hardy succulents lining my driveway. It was mid-March and they had already started pushing up through the hard ground. These guys come back early every spring, no matter what this harsh Midwest climate throws at them in the winter and regardless of how I ignore them in the heat of the summer.
I think one of the reasons they are so cold-tolerant and drought-resistant is the way they’re designed. Look closely:
The leaves open upward and overlap each other, forming a cup-like shape. Do you see the droplets of water that have been caught within them? From there the moisture slowly seeps down into the heart of the plant where it will be stored until it’s needed in the dry season ahead.
I’m reminded that we, too, can catch water in cupped hands. We fit our palms and fingers together like this tiny succulent and hold them under a faucet or scoop them down into a creek. Most of us learned this as children, when it was a form of play. Unlike the plant, for us it’s just a temporary measure, but in a pinch you can sure grab a little and maybe slurp it or splash it, just like when you were a kid.
Cupped hands, like cupped leaves, seem to me a metaphor for prayer.
I see in them a picture of emptiness that needs to be filled, a gesture of acknowledging the Source. As the plant reaches up to absorb the moisture it needs, we offer up our empty hands asking — maybe begging — for what sustains us, too.
God designed these humble plants perfectly to collect what they need to survive; He knows what the seasons will bring. And He does the same for us.
He invites us to come to Him any time — all the time — confessing our emptiness, acknowledging that He is the One who nourishes, anticipating an outpouring of His generosity. We don’t need a bucket, just humble hands cupped in prayer.
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