This year on the 4th of July, I hiked with my family to the highest elevated point in North America on the east side of the Mississippi River – Mount Mitchell in Burnsville, North Carolina.
Of course, I didn’t hike it from the bottom because I rode up to the top in our car and walked up the paved 500 feet to the tippy top, but hey – I did it! But we did hike a trail that circles the top of the mountain about a mile long. As I hobbled with a bum knee along the natural trail filled with exposed roots and rocks, I started noticing how much moss grows on the ground, rocks, trees, and trees that had crashed to the ground.
Rays of sun peeked through the branches and leaves of the tall trees highlighting the lime-green moss living in the mountain land. And I started taking photographs of them because I somehow found them intriguing.
When I got home, I remained curious about the characteristics of moss that God created for a purpose. It’s kind of funny because the day before the Wordle word of the day was “mossy” and there was a sticker on the mirror in the cabin bathroom that said “Mossy’s Fly Shop Alaska”, so I’m taking it that God was trying to teach me something here.
Moss has always been around since God first created nature and can live in extreme cold and extreme heat all over this globe. It lives in deserts, mountains, damp caves, and your yard.
These tiny plants are essential in the biodiversity of habitats all over the planet. The sunlight is their food (photosynthesis) and plays a vital role in the formation of new ecosystems. As they carpet areas of land, they’re like sponges, soaking up rain and maintaining the moisture, which feeds the surrounding plants – giving them the gift to thrive. Even in seasons of dryness, the water they maintain helps other plants and trees to survive.
Mosses' characteristics are similar to God’s, aren’t they? Multitudes of moss all over this world, are fed by the Light of Jesus which gives us the gift to thrive in His Kingdom here on earth. Like a sponge, He absorbs every bit of us because that’s how He functions with love – sin and all. He maintains our needs – giving us each day our daily needs so we can thrive and repeat those actions so others will form into His image and thrive.
I’m also flabbergasted how some moss grows in darkness – in the damp, pitch-black, dark caves with hardly any light in them. Yet, it lives and grows there and even shines an emerald-green color. This type of moss can adapt and cope with a lack of light which amazingly creates a luminescence glow in the dark. There are many scientific explanations of how this happens, and I won’t go into detail, but just trust or look it up and learn for yourself.
Isn’t that where God’s presence is also? In the dark caves of life, where we feel hopeless in finding our way out, can really be a good place to be. Barbara Brown Taylor, author of Learning to Walk in the Dark teaches us that darkness isn’t necessarily a bad thing,
“Instead, I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.” She also states, “There is a light that shines in the darkness, which is only visible there.” Like a certain moss.
Here is the testimony of faith written in Psalm 139:12; “darkness is not dark to God; the night is as bright as the day.”
So, God is present with us not only in light but also in dark seasons of life, just as moss grows in dark places. We might not be able to see anything at first, and we may have to sit there a while, but our eyes will adjust, and we will be able to see God there with us.
Maybe the next time you catch a glimpse of moss when you’re out and about, take a moment to stop and remember how God –the Creator of moss – cares for you like the way moss cares for the ecosystem in which it lives…provides, protects, and is present with us wherever we are in life – at a mountain top or dark cave.