Saturday, March 6, 2010

The God of the Endosperm

Two candidates wait, crouched eagerly for discovery within their dark hovel, both of them equally gifted--they are sisters, from the same cell--both poised to burst forth into glorious flowering purpose. Only one of them, however, will usher herself into colorful notoriety. The other, we will call, the endosperm.

HUH, you say? Well, when the megasporocyte (cool name, huh?) inside a seed-bearing plant divides, she produces two megaspores, one of which dies, the other of which divides again three times to make eight cells. Each of these cells is "equally gifted" with the same genetic material, but out of each three, one is chosen to become an egg, and the other two become "polar nuclei." These cells all wait patiently inside the pistil, the female part in the center of a flower, until a pollen grain lands on the pistil and sends a long tube of sperm down to them. The egg, when fertilized by pollen, grows into the embryo that grows into the main body of the beautiful flower. The two polar nuclei, when fertilized, fuse together in obscurity and form the endosperm, the triploid freak with three copies of genetic instructions instead of the customary two. Flowers are the subjects of poems, treatises, research, and poetry from every civilization. The endosperm? Not so much. We shall call it the historical loser.

Much like many biblical characters, actually. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Jesus' ancestors, failed miserably over and over and over again. And again. Abraham, an unloved nobody in a strange land, repeatedly sold out on his wife to save his own skin; Isaac treated one of his sons better than the other so that they nearly killed each other out of jealousy; Jacob not only followed in his father's favoritist footsteps, but also lied to his brother, cheated his uncle, and proved helpless against the rape of his daughter, loss of his son, or the slaughter of an innocent town. Successful guys? Not so much. Each of them lived in sorrow in their old age, not only because of their own failures, but also because of the trickery of others. Classic losers. Classic endosperm.

Yet it is the endosperm that is most crucial to the survival of a plant. A seed would have no purpose, and in fact no body, without the endosperm, for it is this strange entity that feeds, protects, and provides the living foundation for the plant before it fully sprouts. The endosperm really lives on in the spirit of the flower itself, for while the endosperm doesn't need the embryo, the embryo desperately needs the endosperm.

Sometimes our lives, like that of the endosperm, seem to us like pointless failures. We assume that because we aren't rich, or popular, or right all the time, or fit, or A plus students, or ________, we aren't serving our purpose in life. However, over and over in the Bible God refers to himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and they certainly didn't have it all together. So why would God essentially call himself "the God of the Losers?" Because just as he builds a flower on the foundation of the endosperm, he builds his kingdom on a foundation of losers who can testify to the power of love and sacrifice. So don't give in to the lie of pointlessness--if you are His, you are NOT a failure. In the words of two lovely songs, "Little is much, when God's in it," and "there's nothing about you that's plain."

I know it sounds funny to say, "I am precious endosperm in God's sight," but hey, I say it, and the laughter makes me live longer anyway. We have a tremendous God. Never forget that.

Information gathered from my Bio 2040 Lab at University of Virginia. Music linked to: Little is much, by downhere, and Plain, by Zoegirl.

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