In our family prayers on Tuesday, Ethan thanked God for mitochondria and photosynthesis. It was no surprise to me because he is enrolled in biology and speech at College for Kids at Southwestern. The biology professor impressed upon them the importance of cell development and energy.
If it’s been a while since you’ve been in a biology class, here’s a quick refresher. Mitochondria act like miniature batteries that provide energy to the cell. They take energy locked in food and, in what I can only describe as a miracle, combine oxygen and food and turn it into power. For example, your brain cells require energy to read this sentence. If you are sitting while reading this, your muscles require energy to maintain your upright position. Both your brain and muscles receive chemical energy from mitochondria. Without them, we’d be energy-less like the proverbial bump on a log. I like to eat and I like to breathe. At a mini-cellular level, eating and breathing would be useless except for mitochondria.
Speaking of eating, photosynthesis is very important for those of us who enjoy food. It’s a process whereby plants trap light energy and convert it into sugar called glucose. On Saturday, I enjoyed a good sweet ear of corn. Without photosynthesis, none of that would have been possible, especially the “sweet” part.
During a normal day, we don’t see photosynthesis or our mitochondria at work. If you are like me, you take it for granted. Of course plants need sunlight and convert it to sugar which feeds me and the animals I like to eat. I have the brain power to read, pray, run and think but it wasn’t until Ethan’s thanks to God for these things that I found myself appreciating them.
We often thank God for big things and pray to God to do big things. When was the last time you thanked God for the small things, like cell reproduction and photosynthesis? Perhaps this week you will find yourself thanking God for the building blocks of life and thank our Creator that we are included in that life.
But I would be entirely remiss were I not to return to Ethan and his prayer which started this entire line of thought. And so, I close with these words from the pen of Father Eugene Hemrick of the Catholic News Service: “Seeing through the eyes of a child means keeping alive a childlike fascination and allowing it to captivate and draw us into the mind of another. We must apply it when we wonder what Christ desired when he said, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3).”