The fact that there are creatures in this world that are so hungry for nourishment that they'll snatch life before it's fully grown - and that we are often those creatures - ought to remind us of just how fragile life is.
We take it for granted, this life that we live. This life that is all around us. Every day, we open our eyes and see a million things that are alive - the grass, the trees, the birds, the neighbors, the bugs. There's so much around us that is living that we just assume it's the default, that everything was meant to be alive.
Even if that's true, it doesn't come easy. Just think about the number of seeds in the average watermelon. Every one of them holds the promise of life, the genetic wiring for more watermelon. But it doesn't just happen. Most of the time, we pluck out the seeds and throw them in the trash (or see how far we can spit them), but our lawns and our landfills are not just teeming with watermelon plants. Millions, billions, trillions of seeds thrown away every year, and we're not overrun by wild watermelon.
It brings us back to a little parable that Jesus told. He told it about faith, we gather, but the same is true about life. Life doesn't just grow because the seed is out there; it has to be nourished.
Sometimes, it falls in a place that's not convenient, as when a bird picks it up and drops it in the middle of the flower bed. In a few weeks, maybe we start the see the vine grow, but nobody wants a watermelon in the middle of the petunias, so we weed it out like it's nothing but a nuisance. Sure, it might bear good fruit there, but it will mess up this beautiful thing we already have going. This is just not the place for watermelon.
Sometimes, it falls in a place we don't even notice it, as when a seed falls somehow in the middle of the lawn. We don't even see it start growing there, don't even recognize it. We just mow right over it while we manicure the rest of the lawn, cutting it down again and again and again until it finally just gives up without us ever knowing how close we were to having fruit right in the thick of our yard.
Sometimes, it falls in a place where there's no chance of nourishment. A watermelon seed on a sidewalk is just not going to sprout. Unless it can find itself a nice piece of fertile soil to nestle into, all its promise is just going to fizzle out. It will die, and no life will spring out of its death. It will just...cease to exist.
Sometimes, you start out well, planting the seed and intending to grow it. But then, stuff just happens and you get away from it and you never seem to get back. It doesn't rain for a few days, and you realize you forgot to water it, and when you go back out, it's too late. Or the weeds start to grow up, and you figure it's probably still got a fighting chance, so you don't help - you don't take the weeds away - and that little seed has no room.
And sometimes, as we started this story, you give that seed every single advantage that you can - nestling it in quality soil, watering it, feeding it, coaxing it to grow - and in the second you have your back turned, some rascally little squirrel comes and digs it up and eats it. Because he just couldn't wait for the actual fruit; the promise was enough.
We take life for granted, since it seems to be all around us. This whole world is teeming with the life of God. As it should be.
But every day, there are millions, billions, trillions of little seeds that...never grow into anything at all. For whatever reason. And this ought to remind us how fragile life truly is.
Including our own.