Starting Point
This week's stories | Home Page
Issue Date:  June 16, 2006

Starting Point


I never expected to be saved from heartache by a Quaker Oats box, even that tall, round kind! And if I had, certainly not on that Friday, a day I thought nothing could rescue.

I had just counseled an abused woman and was feeling sad about her pain. Then a colleague told me that she was angry about a decision I’d made -- I hadn’t realized it would affect her. I apologized profusely then left hurriedly for the wake of a close relative. After the wake, needing some comfort, I stopped to visit a friend.

When I arrived at Janet’s, she greeted me excitedly: “Come see what’s happened!” I followed her to the back porch where she pointed to a soggy Quaker Oats box with garden tools poking out. At the bottom was an old garden glove, soaked by the rain. On top of it was a packet of pumpkin seeds that Janet had looked for all during the spring. As the packet had gotten wet from the moisture in the glove, it broke open and the seeds began to sprout. Interlaced through the hand shovel and hoe, green stems and leaves were growing out of the box, the beginnings of a pumpkin plant.

Janet was delighted that the seeds had grown without her even planting them; I was revitalized. I felt, almost suddenly, hopeful, as though we had seen something akin to a miracle. And, perhaps, we had, since life is a miracle wherever and however it appears.

Just as hearing of a death often changes our perspective, so too can a vision of new life, even when it springs forth from a tiny pumpkin seed.

Somehow witnessing life being born in that old, wet Quaker Oats box, despite the many obstacles, transformed the day for me. The concerns that were with me earlier, now seemed surmountable. My colleague, client, and family would, I hoped, all heal from their pain.

I knew then with clarity that the greater miracle wasn’t the new life growing out of the Quaker Oats box, but that those pumpkin seeds had given me renewed energy and hope.

Ellen Rufft is a Sister of Divine Providence and a licensed psychologist.

National Catholic Reporter, June 16, 2006

This Week's Stories | Home Page | Top of Page
Copyright  © The National Catholic Reporter Publishing  Company, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO   64111
All rights reserved.
TEL:  816-531-0538     FAX:  1-816-968-2280   Send comments about this Web site to: