The seeds that never grew

Every moment and every event of every person’s life
on earth plants something in their soul.
For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds,
so each moment brings with it the germs of spiritual vitality
that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men.
Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost,
because men are not prepared to receive them:
for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere
except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity and love…
We must learn to realize that the love of God seeks us
in every situation, and seeks our good.
His inscrutable love seeks our awakening.

Thomas Merton, “Seeds of Contemplation”

“Why is there a gap here?” I ask. The neat row of corn stops abruptly before starting again two or three feet later.

“I planted a packet of zucchini seeds there,” the farmer explains, “but I guess they never came up.”

It’s a small loss, one packet of seeds. Only a few plants would have grown here anyway, and he tells me that he’s had serious trouble with squash beetles the last few years so the plants may not have thrived anyway. There are some cucumbers growing further down the row, but this spot is empty except for weeds.

I continue weeding, clearing the ground of lamb’s quarter and purslane. It’s strange to think of those lost little zucchini seeds, somewhere under the soil, lying dormant. I think about the seeds planted by the sower in Jesus’ parable that never grow. I wonder if one of the fates may have befallen these seeds: perhaps they fell on rocky soil, perhaps they were choked out by weeds or eaten by birds or scorched by the hot sun.

Perhaps they were just not ready to grow, to be received by the soil.

Later, we take some of the tiny cucumber shoots – the struggling ones that got crowded out by their healthier neighbors – and move them to the newly cleared gap in the row of corn. Because the zucchini seeds never grew, these little cucumber plants will have room to wiggle their cramped roots deeper into the open soil. Because the zucchini seeds died, these seeds will live and bear fruit.

After all, sometimes, tragedy is not as it seems. Sometimes it is only making room for something small and struggling to thrive.

What spiritual lessons have you learned in your garden? What do you take away from the parable of the sower (Matthew 13)? Have you planted seeds in your life that never grew? Did their death somehow make room for new life?

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Filed under Lectionary Reflections, Theology and Faith

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