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Mysterious Ways: The Gift in the Garden

Mother loved foraging for mushrooms, but this spring she was too ill to go.

Morel growing in a flower garden

That spring, for the first time in years, Mother couldn’t go mushrooming. After surgery, she was recuperating at our home. No scurrying off to the moist Hoosier woodlands. No hunting for morels, the rare cone-shaped mushrooms that grow for a short time every spring.

For Mother that was a real hardship; mushrooming was her gift. Every year we kids would go into the woods with her; we’d fan out in different directions, searching in proven morel breeding grounds such as patches of mayapple, rotting stumps and fallen elm trees. But it was always Mother who would call out suddenly, “Come quick! Look what I’ve found.” And there, in an unpromising pile of decaying leaves, half-hidden, would be the precious honeycomb spikes of morels we’d been seeking.

“These mushrooms are like the manna that God sent the children of Israel in the wilderness,” Mother would say. “He chooses when and where He wants them to appear.” That spring, Mother longed to go again to the woods where the morels grew, but forced to stay near home, she puttered listlessly in the garden.

Then one Saturday, Mother was watering the tulips outside the living room window when I heard her cry, “Come quick! Look what I’ve found.”

There among the yellow tulips I spotted something familiar–a cone-shaped morel. We scanned the ground to find another one, and another, growing where they never had grown before–and never have since.

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