Sunday, June 10, 2007


An excerpt from The Parable of the Sower:
A sower went out to sow seed...Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold. -Luke 8:5a,8

I have garden boxes my husband built, lined with gopher wire, filled with topsoil and mushroom compost, watered by drip irrigation. In parable terms, I'm loaded with good soil, and the sower of California poppy seed has been busy broadcasting in my garden beds. Of course I can't pull the poppies, they're the state flower, and I don't want to end up in gardener's prison. Plus they're so pretty with their goldenrod heads waving gracefully on long stems. The bumble bees and honeybees love them, and with the bee shortage I've been reading about, I don't want to disturb bee "habitat."

Then there's the mint. The one tiny plant I tapped into the soil two springs ago has spread across the entire bed, obscuring chives, onion and eggplant. It's an herb, not a weed, so I don't dig it up, but there's only so much mint tea a person can brew.

We know Jesus was a carpenter, but I wonder if he had garden chores. He mentions thorns and weeds, but all of that is in the bad soil, not in the garden or field. If Jesus had gardened, wouldn't he have mentioned something in the parable about needing to remove "the volunteers" or even to thin the crops once they started growing?

When my husband and I were newlyweds, we made a vegetable garden in a corner of the backyard. We watered every day after work, delighted in the first green heads poking from the ground, and proudly showed off our 18 baby zucchini plants, only to be told by seasoned gardeners that we didn't want all those plants. Keep one or two they said. We couldn't bear to rip any out until the tiny garden was so crowded that we were forced to relent and took out about half of them. We ate a lot of zucchini that summer.

We were victims of abundance! I have the same problem in life. There is an overabundance of need in this world, an overabundance of opportunities to volunteer time and contribute money to spread the good news of God's love, to try and ease suffering, to share my story, to spread some hope. Worthy seeds, requests and pleas land in my garden beds, and seem to have no end.

But, my little garden, no matter how rich my soil, simply can't nurture and support every seed that ends up in my plot. I have to be selective, even ruthless in committing to the crop(s) I'm trying to grow. In her book Writing Alone and With Others, Pat Schneider writes:
"There is something fundamentally wrong with 'other commitments' if they keep me from my true work. "

She also writes, "I write because I want to bring to myself and perhaps to my reader more light, more grace, more understanding, more delight. I write sometimes out of my anger or my concern to try to make a difference in the world...It is my vocation, and my work is a prayer."

What seeds are growing in your garden? Are they intentionally planted, or did they find you like a volunteer tomato in an empty pot by the door? Is your garden being choked out by an overabundance of seeds and plants that seem to have showed up while you weren't looking? Should you thin? What will bring you closer to the word, and to being a sower of the word?


Little specks of nothing
nearly naked to the eye
broadcast on snow white wings
scattered from fingers
of the Great Sower

Drenched in living water
who can say exactly
what caused them to burst
from the soil
tender green shoots
reaching straight
for the source
of it all
like arms in prayer

Fierce and fat as wildfire
pollen coated bees deliver the fragrant word
straight to the ear
Be still and you will hear

The flowers the fruit
bright and delicious
they grow and we gather
wrap the abundance in our arms
walk through this ravenous world

Take, Eat and Live
Taste and see
This is the soil and the blood
the body, the great love

Sowers of the word
let the seed fall
where it may

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