Anastasia It comes from the work of an author Ambrose liked, Jacob Boehme. From page 229: Boehme believed "God had hidden clues for humanity's betterment inside the design of every flower, leaf, fruit and tree on earth. All the natural world was a divine code, Boehme claimed, containing proof of our Creator's love." Ambrose briefly lost his mind in college after reading Boehme, remember?
April Besides coming from Boehme's book that so affected Ambrose; I think the title encapsulates the grand theme of Gilbert's novel. To wit: 'to see the world in a grain of sand' is to show the micro/macro patterns between plants, mammals, soil, air, water, etc. i.e. the patterns and inter-connectedness of the whole natural world. So in the construct of Alma's world experience: are all these relational-patterns wrought by God or Nature?
Cathy Johnson I have just recently begun reading this book, and am not far enough along in it to know all the specifics to support this, but I think that the title must relate to what is referred to as the "Doctrine of Signatures, based on a concept developed by Paracelsus (1493–1541) (born Phillippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim). Wikipedia describes Paracelsus as “a Swiss German philosopher, physician, botanist, astrologer, and general occultist credited as the founder of toxicology” who believed that "Nature marks each growth ... according to its curative benefit.” The theory was advanced and embellished upon by Jacob Boehme in his 1621 book, “The Signature of All Things,” and expanded upon by others over the centuries.
Tan Cha I think it is because the wold used to believe Jocob Boehme, that you could eat a walnut, say, to cure a headache or something that looked like blood, to cure a disease of the blood etc etc, which Charles Darwin proved wrong. Alma had worked that out too - that the signature of things isn't really that scientific, but because Ambrose believed it, she realised there were things that couldn't be measured by science...
Kellytrees Genetic information, and the biological molecules that make up all living things is the signature. We are all connected through evolution, which is what the character discovers at the end of the book.
Nancy McInerney That all life is interconnected. That we are one in the same and although we do not speak the language of the trees, plants and animals that they too have their own way of living and communicating.
Ms.pegasus I am puzzled by this as well. I think it means that in every living thing there is an imprint of its evolutionary history. It is odd that the phrase comes from Ambrose but that Alma never incorporates it into her own thinking, yet the author chooses that phrase as the title of the book.