Anyone who knows me would not deny the fact that I am a plant nerd. I love the functionality of plants. I love their beauty, purpose and meaning.
Sometimes I think as human beings we get a sense of superiority because of our brains and opposable thumbs. For me, plants can be humbling. That's what I've felt this week. One of the first things that ran through my mind in driving across Uganda from Kampala to Lira was, “How green; I love it.”
The gardens are growing at Calo Me Lare.
My eyes lit up when I first saw how beautiful this country is, and even more as I started recognizing the plants.
I see the banana trees and laugh as I recall the little one we grew in the school greenhouse. At summertime it was always a dare to get someone to try the bananas.
I see the coffee trees and think about gorgeous red berries and whose table they will end up on.
I see angel wing begonias and remember the first time I encountered that plant. An older gentleman gave it to me, saying that the original plant had been passed down through three generations and I wasn't allowed to kill it.
I see lantanas as we move farther north, and that's when I really felt God holding me saying, “I'm here with you. I've been with you before you got here, and a little ocean won't keep me from you here now. This is your home now.”
The school at Dokolo is one place I and others can learn.
Then I look beyond what is familiar and am fueled by what there is to learn. In Ben Rector's song “Green” he sings, “I remember what it is to be so green.”
Green can symbolize life, growth, knowledge and wisdom. My mind also wanders to what it means for a horse to be green: inexperienced, uncomfortable, with a lot left to learn. I don't think that's quite the direction Ben Rector was going for, but I can speak for myself when I say I think I'm remembering what it means to be so green.
God is being gracious to me in making this place already feel like home, but the beautiful green around me also serves as a humbling reminder that I have a lot to learn. Then again, it wouldn't be a new day unless there's something to learn.
The children at Calo Me Lare learn to tie Catherine's shoes.
Catherine Rutan is a 2018 MIAP-Noble Fellow serving in agricultural development roles in Uganda. Rutan is from Spring, Texas, and is a student in the Master of International Agriculture Program at Oklahoma State University, where she focuses on international development. This fellowship is sponsored in part by the Noble Research Institute.