during our time in australia, i've had a chance to read a bit about permaculture from a manual lent to me by marg harvey, an expert, creative gardener and family friend. permaculture is a practice very popular here in australia, in fact it was created by a famous australian gardener. it is defined as
"…a moral and ethical design system applicable to food production and land use, as well as community design. It seeks the creation of productive and sustainable ways of living by integrating ecology, landscape, organic gardening, architecture, agroforestry, green or ecological economics, and social systems.”
i came across a particular recommendation in the book that interested me greatly. i think it serves as a useful, earthy anology to the apostolic work of the people of god. in a section on succession planting, the manual defines a type of plant called "pioneer species." these plants are "selected shrubs, which can live in degraded soil, improve soil nutrients, and protect seedling trees, are planted initially"
apparently, as other species are planted after these first inhabitants the stability of the ecosystem is strengthened. so the ability of an ecosystem to survive is based to a significant degree on the first type of species planted, a pioneering species. these initial species must be able to weather the compromised conditions of "degraded soil" in order to make the surrounding area more inhabitable for future plants.
it seems to me that we don't have to look hard to find the design and intent of god throughout all levels of created order and i am reminded that the plan within the natural world can serve as a great source of insight and inspiration for us.