Resurrection Fern, a Metaphor for Life

Here on St Simons Island we have a plant that is common in the southeast, but one I never saw in Ohio.  The resurrection fern grows on the branches of the live oak trees, looking like a forest in a tree.  The plant is an epiphyte, like spanish moss, that grows on another plant but does not harm the other plant.  It gets its nutrients from water and air.

The unusual thing about the resurrection fern is the amount of time it can survive a drought without dying.  Although the fern is an evergreen, during the hot southern summers and at dry times, it looks brown and withered.  In other words, it looks like it is dead.  The leaves curl up and feel dry to the touch.  After just a little rain, however, the fern uncurls and reopens, regaining its vivid green within 24 hours.  The North Carolina Extension Service did an experiment and found that the fern will revive even years after its last exposure to water.  Other plants die after losing 10% of their water, but the resurrection fern can lose 97% and still revive.

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, he asked her for a drink.  Thus ensued a discussion about thirst, water, and the living water that only Jesus can give.  John 4:13-15:  “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

As human beings, we need water in our bodies, so the woman had to come to the well every day to draw water.  Jesus is talking about a different kind of water:  the living water that brings life to dying people.

Sometimes we are like resurrection ferns:  curled up, dry, going through periods of drought.  Jesus offers us water that will make us green and spread out again.  He offers us life, eternal life, and he proved it through his resurrection.  There is a reason we celebrate new life in the spring, because it symbolizes our new life in Jesus Christ.

Even if we have accepted him as our savior, we can still go through times of drought.  But all we have to do is ask and he will refresh us with this living water.  Like the resurrection fern, we can weather the times of drought knowing that Jesus will provide the water we need.  Then our souls will be refreshed and we will grow.

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water.

 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

Psalm 63:1-5

  • Brenda Ferguson

    Forever there to refresh my soul…