A Thousand Seeds
‘What you sow does not come to life unless it dies’ (1 Cor. 15:36).
Spring sings jazzy harmonies and awakens the dawn; ok, birds do, and Missouri has scads of them, as many and diverse as the freshly minted trees in which they perform. From Lent throughout spring, all the bare trunks of Kansas City morph into verdant choir lofts. Awesome. Nothing like a Midwest Easter.
Resurrection makes sense here. After lean, icy days of ‘dying’, this Californian comes alive. I take seriously John 12 when Jesus calls all of us to die again—to surrender afresh, so that the stubborn hard husk of the flesh can split open once more and release a thousand seeds into the good earth around us: you know, ‘Unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds’ (Jn. 12:24). I’ve found that aging doesn’t make you better—probably worse—save for assent to the rhythm of these blessed days—death to life, transforming our same new sins into flowers.
Flowers. I’ve a neat story here about hyssop, a soothing plant with purple flowers associated with healing: its stalk used to wet the mouth of dying Jesus, Jn. 19:29; David cried: ‘Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be whiter than snow,’ Ps. 51: 7.
Back to story. Our jarring move from Orange County to Missouri 15-years-ago was eased by buying a home perched like a tree house upon a golf course which had a wilderness patch freed from all tending, free to tell its own story. Every window invited us to engage the seasons. Marvelous. I discovered the difference between annuals (plants that die every year) and perennials (plants that resurrect.) Of the latter, hyssop was my favorite: hardy, elegant, fragrant.
That house eased a slew of culture clashes; I clung to it as a refuge from the minor losses we incurred in our new locale. But when the house no longer served Annette well, I knew we had to leave. This began a downward ascent—first a comically broken-down rental then the purchase of another house in need of overhaul in a relatively sketchy neighborhood. We moved from one to the other on a bleak autumn day—the sky spitting freezing wads at us—and all I had to show for my days of tilling the soil was two pots of dormant hyssop. They sat forlorn all winter in our uncultivated yard, nearly an acre, with no golf course gardeners in view.
Come spring, I was surprised to witness dozens of little hyssop plants emerging from the pots. I cleared a rim around our large back and transferred them. They flourished and I transplanted more and more in the summer. Still the same after the next winter until this gracious purple gift hemmed in the entire backyard. Today as I hear birds singing and survey new shoots emerging, I am grateful. In this land, not entirely ours, I witness the first day of God’s new creation.
‘See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come’ (S of S 2: 11, 12a).
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