Can the monstera houseplant teach us something about our faith in God?
This plant, nicknamed the Swiss cheese plant, has become hugely popular in recent times. Much sought after, it has risen to the status of an icon among houseplant aficionados.
But besides being a fun plant to grow indoors, is there anything we can learn from the monstera? Can its example help us grow spiritually?
I believe that just about everything in the natural world can teach us something that can deepen our faith. I like how Ralph Waldo Emerson put it: “Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact.”
And the monstera is no exception!
Here are 5 things this special and beloved plant can teach us:
- Be open enough to let annoyances pass you by without damaging you.
The holes in the monstera’s leaves are called fenestrations, a word related to the Latin for “window” (it’s also called the windowleaf plant). These holes are a feature of the plant, not a bug. The ribbons and holes help make it more resistant to downpours and wind damage: rain and wind pass through it rather than beating it down.
We can take a leaf from its book by keeping our eyes on Christ and on heavenly things. Don’t cling to earthly things with a clenched hand. Leave “holes” or spaces in your life so that earthly annoyances fly right by you instead of tossing you around.
- When your life feels dark, move toward something that stands far above your problems.
One of the most unusual features of the monstera is that if the seedlings find themselves in an area of low light on the forest floor, they’ll crawl toward an even darker area. This counterintuitive action is called negative phototropism. This behaviour seems like the wrong thing to do when a plant needs light, but it’s actually a clever ploy on the part of the monstera. It knows that if it grows in the direction of darkness, it’s bound to find a large tree which is blocking the light, which it then climbs up. The monstera knows that the best light source is found by clinging to the tallest tree. Smart!
Similarly, we need to find something that stands above all our problems, and that something is God. He is our Creator and Provider, and we can turn to Him when we’re in distress or confusion. Cling to God and you’ll find the light of Christ, which outshines whatever darkness you find yourself in.
- If you want to bear fruit, you may need to break out of your rut.
The monstera’s full botanical name is Monstera deliciosa. Deliciosa refers to its delicious fruits, which are said to taste like a cross between a pineapple and a banana. In fact, one of the plant’s other nicknames is the “fruit salad plant.”
However, the monstera rarely flowers and sets fruit as an indoor houseplant. To produce a harvest of delicious fruit, the plant really needs to be outside in its natural habitat.
Likewise, sometimes we need to get outside of our narrow confines to really bear fruit for God’s kingdom. We need to go outside of our comfort zones and reach for the sky.
- The best things come to those who wait.
The monstera can teach us patience in two ways. First, young seedlings won’t show the characteristic holes in their leaves until they grow up a bit. Second, the fruit of the monstera takes an unusually long time to mature—longer than a year.
Patience is certainly a Biblical virtue that a lot of us need to develop. Over and over, Scripture teaches us to “wait on the Lord.” And Galatians 6:9 tells us to “not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
- We’re all in the same boat as Adam.
The Spanish and Portuguese names for monstera translate as “Adam’s rib,” referring to the leaves’ resemblance to ribs. This reminds us that we’re all descended from Adam, we’ve all sinned, and we’re all in the same boat in needing a Saviour, who is Jesus Christ.
Who knew that one plant could teach us so much!
© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.