Lichen

I’m having Girl Scout flashbacks in Seattle this week in that I’m semi-obsessed with Seattle’s lichen population near the University of Washington.

Last week’s Science Friday featured Troy McMullin, a lichenologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature who describes lichen as “a fungus that’s learned to farm.” In other words, these fabulous fungi  are able to adapt to changes in moisture and temperature.  They are capable of making “mechanical changes” that allow more access to light and therefore new growth to develop.

Lichen can be found in all shapes and sizes, in a variety of colors. And in the healthiest of forests, the diversity of lichen is vast.

If you want to understand the health of a forest, don’t look up at the height of the tree.  Look down at the lichen.

In Church we look up to the heavens for relief and hope.  But – looking around at our healthiest churches  – we find God working especially in adaptive and diverse congregations.  The healthiest congregations have learned how to farm: how to grow nourishing resources, how to use water and light to promote abundant life, how to welcome diversity for the sake of the forest – I mean the Kingdom.

God continues to create every day.  How are we welcoming beautiful adaptive change in our congregations?

Images of lichen on the grounds of the Talaris Conference Center in Seattle yesterday.

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