A fascination with vegetation
Michael Joseph Jackson's Neverland ranch was a virtual sanctuary for an assortment of animals, but little attention is drawn to the fact that it was also a verdant oasis where dry, rolling hills served as a backdrop. Manicured lawns that mesmerized, an array of exotic plants, and a tapestry of bright flowers greeted many a cheerful visitor. He bemoaned man's ruination of Earth in his Grammy-nominated Earth Song (1995). It's still Michael's best-selling single in the United Kingdom. The music video was shot in four geographical regions of the planet.
Plant-It Earth: Michael knew that Jehovah God is the Original Gardener, being, as He is, the Creator of all plant life. "And God continued: 'Let the raging waters under the heavens come together so that dry ground can be seen.' And so it happened. This dry ground God started calling 'land,' and the confluence of raging waters he called 'seas.' God saw this collective action as something good. And God went on to say: 'This "land," let her give birth to grass; to categories of vegetation with its own vegetation-producing seed inside; and fruit--born from fruit trees--with its own fruit-producing seed inside. Let this take place earth wide.' And it happened, just as God commanded. Mother Earth began birthing grass, and different categories of vegetation with their own vegetation-producing seed inside, and fruit--born from fruit trees--with its own fruit-producing seed inside. God saw it come about and was duly satisfied with the goodness of the collective events. The cycle of obscurity-to-clarity marked the Third Creative Epoch."--Gen 1:9-13, Carr's Christian Bible.
While Jack and the Beanstalk made the beanstalk rather famous, the most famous tree of all time is the "tree of life in the middle of the garden" of Eden. (Gen 2:9; 3:24, New World Translation) However, another "tree of life" has emerged with its own claim to fame.
The "Tree of Life" Today: Scientists are completely baffled by today's Tree of Life. This tree is located in the tiny nation of Bahrain, and someone forgot to tell it that it's not supposed to be alive. Life magazine describes it as a "mesquite tree that has grown at the highest point in Bahrain for over 400 years." But wait. There's more. "The Tree of Life," the magazine continues, "lives isolated in the desert, miles away from other vegetation and with no apparent source of water." That's right. It's in the middle of the hot, arid desert, but flourishes like it in the middle of the jungle.
Another source says that "the mystery of the survival of the tree has made it legend," and that "the local inhabitants believe with heart and soul that this was the actual location of the Garden of Eden." Although both Michael and I were in Bahrain (I preceded him there and learned of the tree's existence during my stay as a guest of the royal family, but left before he arrived), we never got the chance to talk about Bahrain's Tree of Life. I am sure, though, that he too marveled over the death-defying enigma that is the Tree of Life.
Fascination with Vegetation: Michael isn't the first famous person to have a fascination with God's creation of wonderful vegetation. While Moses may have been familiar with taxonomy in receiving the best education that Africa had to offer (Acts 7:22), Solomon, in his God-ordained education that surpassed that of African and Oriental wisdom, was a connoisseur of plant categorization and classification. "Solomon's wisdom was greater than that of all the eastern people and all the wisdom of the Egyptians." (1 Ki 4:30, God's Word Translation) "He described and classified trees--from the cedar in Lebanon to the hyssop growing out of the wall. He described and classified animals, birds, reptiles, and fish."--1 Ki 4:33, GWT.
Music & Magnolias?: Do plants enjoy human company? "There isn't a lot of research in this area," says Professor Rich Marini, head of Penn State's horticulture department in the College of Agricultural Sciences. "But there is evidence that plants respond to sound." Scientists at the National Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology in South Korea suggest that plants respond to music played at 70 decibels. "This is about the level of a normal conversation," Marini is reported to have said. Yes, there may well be boogying bougainvillea and moonwalking magnolias--of course, when no one's watching. Michael would be proud. Peace and blessing to all. Amen.