My grandmother is going to be worshiping with us this Sunday. Mrs. Opal Morgan, 96 years old, is still gardening. My mom says that growing up my granny always planted a vegetable garden and a row of zinnias, like those above. Mom says that that row was her beauty. But what is interesting is that my granny never watered her garden. It either “made” or “didn’t make” based on the rains which came.
This week we are talking about planting as a spiritual practice and studying one of my favorite little parables, the parable of the growing seed. It is also called “The Parable of the Seed Growing by Itself.” With this title it makes me think of a children’s book. This is the only parable found in Mark which does not have a parallel in the other Gospels. Perhaps that is why it tends to get less airtime in church than its more famous cousins, like the parable of the mustard seed.
In this passage the Kingdom of God is likened to someone scattering seed on the ground and waiting to see what happens. This person sleeps and wakes and time passes and the “earth produces of itself”, we are told, first the stalk and then the head and then the mature grain. This someone reminds me of my granny.
She was busy sleeping and rising and taking care of my mom and the chickens and sewing and going to the well for drinking water and bathing water. She didn’t have time for an extra trip to water her garden. She was dependent on the rain.
My mom says most years the garden made it and they had okra, black eyed peas, and onions. As well as a row of beauty on which to rest weary eyes.
Planting it seems to me is an act of hope. The seed in the moist and rich- smelling soil is the meeting space between human work (preparing the soil, preserving or buying seed, timing the planting after the final frost) and the mystery of germination and new life. The seed lives in a liminal zone between what is and what can be. And this fertile space is where God does her work.
Now there is a lot to this little parable. I don’t want to domesticate it but instead I invite you all to read it and reflect on its multiple meanings in our lives together. What might it say about the Reign of God and the way in which it grows in our midst?
Join us tonight as we practice some Lectio Divina and sit with this passage over Mediterranean fare at Wes and Teri’s 6:30pm (call 214. 233-4605 for directions)– and Sunday morning 11am.
Grace and Peace to you all this day,