Monday, August 6, 2007

"P" is for Planting: Grace Happening People are Seed Sowers

This is the ninth installment of a twelve-week summer series based on the anagram “GRACE HAPPENS,” each letter representing a quality that equips us to be “Grace Happening People.”

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: ...a time to plant and a time to uproot…
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Many of my happiest childhood memories are about the yearly trips we took to Attica, New York to visit my grandparents. I germinated and sprouted in Buffalo, New York and then, at the age of eight, I was transplanted in Indiana. I especially enjoyed exploring and savoring my grandfather’s country garden, as well as the field of wildflowers and the woods beyond the garden. I LOVE to watch things grow from seeds, to bright green shoots, to leggy plants with tiny buds, to glorious blossoms. I love to watch people grow in similar fashion.
Years ago, I came across the following poem by Ann North:

Some of the seeds of hope
Planted tentatively in the fall
Have not come up
They lie stillborn and unrealized
Somewhere in the spring soil/Decaying

The strongest and best ones
Pushed up through leaves
And layers of cold hard resistance
Right into clear blue air
And stand there nakedly green

It’s always that way with growing things
Never knowing at the start
Which will make it and which will fail
But the thing to hold fast to
Never to lose faith in
Is simplySowing

We all know first hand what it is like when the seeds we plant “lie stillborn and unrealized.” You may or may not have a green thumb, but I’m actually referring to the many hopes and dreams that we envision “push[ing] up through leaves/and layers of cold hard resistance/right into clear blue air/and stand there nakedly green/Breathing.” In my early years of gardening, I learned the harsh reality that cauliflower and broccoli are particularly vulnerable veggies and I quickly gave them over to those gross little worms that love Brassica Oleracia with a passion. Bugs I can handle. But worms—YUCK! Thus, I gave up on my dream of dipping the raw fruits (or should I say veggies) of my labor into ranch dressing and smothering my delicious, homegrown, fresh fro the garden veggies in melted cheddar cheese. In similar fashion, I sometimes abandon my personal hopes and dreams when the going gets wormy.
“It’s always that way with growing things,” muses Ann North, “never knowing at the start which will make it and which will fail.” Thus, the sensible thing to do is to plant, water, weed, pray, and hope for the best. The only alternative is to NOT sow, and then, well…we get absolutely nothing! Holding on to our hopes and pursuing our dreams is a risky business that requires courage and commitment, patience and persistence—definitely not an easy row to hoe.
We have some choices on what kinds of seeds to sow. We can sow seeds of hope, encouragement, wisdom (as opposed to advice), humor, humility, appreciation, gratitude, forgiveness… Or we can sow seeds of criticism, discouragement, doubt, fear, insecurity, faintheartedness, cynicism… The latter seeds will never, ever nurture growth and are packaged in the misconception that life should go smoothly, without weeds, pests or pestilence. Life was idyllic in Eden, and eternal life will be “out of this world” in heaven. But not so in the interim, post Fall and pre Eternity.
Grace Happening people understand that the rain falls on both the good and the evil and don’t expect it to be otherwise. Grace Happening People keep on sowing, season after season, because we rely on the Master Gardener during both times of bountiful harvest and the devastation of crop failure. We strive to “hold fast to/never to lose faith in…simply/Sowing.”
Who in your life is in need of encouragement, wisdom, a healthy dose of attitude-altering humor, appreciation, forgiveness? When might you need to practice restraint lest you sow criticism, discouragement, doubt, fear, insecurity, faintheartedness, cynicism?

“People reap what they sow… Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.” Galatians 6:7-10

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