The First Rhubarb

by Buzz Kelly,([email protected])

The First Rhubarb lifted its leaves and spread them to the heavens, its
photoreceptors drinking in the sunshine, reveling in the suffusing warmth and
the quickening flow of moisture in its veins.
"What am I?" it wondered.  "Whatever I am, it feels marvelous and I surely
like it, but...what am I?"  
"You are Rhubarb," came a deep voice from nowhere, "the first of your kind,
and I have made you."  
Surprised, puzzled, and somewhat afraid (the voice was verrrry deep!),
Rhubarb scanned its photoreceptors, searching for the locus of the voice, but
to no avail.  So it triggered its chemical communication system, sending
streams of hormones and enzymes out through its roots, complex molecules
coursing into the earth, and there -though it was very hard for it to
perceive -- it sensed a Presence.  
Chemically speaking, it addressed the Presence.  "Are you God?" asked
Rhubarb.  "If so, why have you made me?  What is my purpose?"  
"I am God," the Presence replied immediately, "and your purpose is
to grow, and flourish, and spread your seeds across the Earth."  
"Will I like that purpose?"  
"Some of the time." 
"Why only 'some' of the time?"  
"Because while some will admire and cherish and praise you, others will
despise and revile you both in private and in public, and a few  will
even seek to uproot you from Creation."  
Rhubarb did not like hearing that.  After all, it had only just awakened to a
bright existence, luxuriated in the beauty of its leaves, reveled in the tall
strength of its stalks and the warmth of the sun, and in its innocence it had
never imagined a less-than-happy life.  Now, a cloud of concern was casting
shadows on its soul.  
"If what you say is true," said Rhubarb somewhat testily, " then I think I
would rather be Rose.  Being Rhubarb sounds an unhappy thing to be."  
"I have enough Roses," said God.  "I wanted Rhubarb, so I made
Rhubarb.  You're stuck with it."  
Rhubarb was small, but it was stubborn, and it did not like God's answer.  So
it puffed up a bit, and said, "Then I shall change myself, if
you won't help me. I shall become Cabbage...or maybe
Spinach, or Broccoli, or..."  
But God interrupted, saying, "No!  You shall be what you shall be, and that
which you shall be is what I have made you.  It is not a choice."  
"I shall resist you!" cried Rhubarb, stiffening its stalks and
making its leaves quite rigid. "I have rights intrinsic to
me, and I _insist_ upon exercising them!"  
"Exercise your rights as you wish," came God's unruffled response.  "You
cannot exercise yourself into something which you are not
and never shall be."  
"Wrong!" cried Rhubarb in a raging enzymatic voice. "If I cannot be something
loved and appreciated by all, then I shall be something sharp and thorny and
tough and leathery! I shall be Artichoke!"   
And, so saying, Rhubarb concentrated upon changing its shape and chemical
structure and root system.  It tried and struggled and struggled and tried,
but at the end, completely exhausted, it remained only what it had been:
Physically spent, its leaves slumped in resignation and its stalks feeling
weak and rubbery, Rhubarb sighed sadly.  "Is this, then, to be my only
existence?" it muttered. "Must I endure without hope?"  
God heard Rhubarb's mutter, because God hears everything, even when it is not
voiced (although He doesn't always answer).  And then, because one of God's
side-line businesses is Hope, he sent a soft, whispering chemical signal to
Rhubarb, a corruscation of complex molecules that burst from the surrounding
soil and tingled up through Rhubarb's roots and spread throughout its leafy
"Rhubarb," said God,"you have touched me with your heart and your bravery and
your willingness to confront even me, your Maker.  Therefore, I shall give
you a sign..."  
And at that very instant, Rhubarb felt himself changing within. Mystery and
magic suddenly surrounded him, his stalks tickled strangely, the juices
flowed fast in his veins, and...for the first time ever in any member of the
plant kingdom...Rhubarb *blushed*.  It made Rhubarb feel all warm, and glowy.
 And it felt very, very good indeed.  Rhubarb sensed it had changed, but it
wasn't quite sure howor why.  It didn't look much different, but it knew
something subtle, something wondrous, had happened.  
"What have you done to me, God?"  asked Rhubarb, wonderingly. 
"Look," said God.  "See the pink of your stalks?  That is a sign that you are
special to Me, even though some others might not think so.  See how the color
becomes ruby-red, verging to crimson?  That is the proof that your existence
is part of all Creation, and that the Essence of Life - the Essence of Me -
is as much a part of you as you are a part of Me."  
And with that, Rhubarb stood tall and spread its leaves and drank anew - with
great joy and ineffable grace -from the warmth of the sun and the nutrients
of the soil and the moisture of the earth.   Soon, there were little Rhubarbs
everywhere.  And then more, and still more and
more.  Some people found them good, and cherished them.  Others reviled and
despised them, and sought to uproot them from Creation.  But Rhubarb
survived, and grew, and prospered.    And always...every single day...Rhubarb
wore its pink with pride.
Buzz Kelly, 12/16/95 <[email protected]>