This is part of what is known as the matchstick bush. When you first pluck it from the bush, it is a solid stalk. But when you run your finger over the top of it (which is black like a matchstick tip), it “explodes” and the seeds/pollen puffs out and you are left with what you see in this picture. I tried capturing the stalk actually exploding, but to no avail. The seeds/pollen though is not large enough to really be seen – its basically dust that blows from its “explosion” so some of it undoubtedly falls upon fertile soil, some falls on barren soil, some never gets a chance to grow, and some grows into a brand new bush. There’s a lot in Mark 4 about seeds – the parable of the sower, the parable of the growing seed and the parable of the mustard seed. All reflect different aspects of the way the kingdom of God works. But regardless of which parable you focus on, one consistent part remains – Once the seeds are sown, it is out of our control. We can plant and we can nurture, but God ultimately makes it grow.
I know I don’t really like this when I really am honest about it. So often, I want to control how things transpire, how they come to pass, how I (or others) grow and mature in faith. Yet, my job is that I am a sower and a caregiver of seeds and I need to trust in the one who will ultimately bring the kindgom of God to live in the lives of individuals and in the world as a whole.