By Sharon L. Rodgers, Liturgist at St. Mary’s, Eugene. This article was originally published in the October edition of The Bellringer, St. Mary’s monthly newsletter.
Bless the lands and waters, and multiply the harvest of the world. (Book of Common Prayer, p. 828)
By the time you read this it will be harvest time in the northern hemisphere. The exact dates depend on location and the crop involved, but fall is harvest time. While I did not grow up in an agricultural community, I’ve read enough to understand that when the crop is ready to be brought in there can be no delay. The in-gathering has to happen before rain causes grain to mold, or a sudden frost turns ripe produce to mush, or the crop simply over-ripens in the fields or on the trees.
In the midst of all that hustle and bustle of harvesting I’m sure there’s little time for those involved to reflect on all that has taken place to turn the seeds that were planted in the spring into the autumn bounty being reaped. While the biochemistry behind what causes a seed to germinate, to push its way out of the soil and grow into a mature plant is something I understand well, that understanding in no way diminishes my sense of wonder at the miraculous nature of what has occurred. Indeed, knowing all the factors involved makes it far more amazing to me than if it were all simply happenstance.
Which is where my favorite tee shirt from General Convention comes in. The woman wearing it was part of the crowd of over 800 Episcopalians who traveled forty miles from downtown Austin to Taylor, Texas, home of the Hutto Detention Center. We had come to show our support for the nearly 500 female asylum seekers being held there. The shirt read: “They tried to bury us. They did not know we were seeds.”
As has been written often, the world can’t tell we’re Christians by what happens to us, but by how we respond to what happens to us. Be it personal crises or more pervasive crises on the national or worldwide level, there’s no question that hard time befall us as surely as they do anyone else, so we can feel buried at times, trapped in the dark by what’s happening around us or to us.
It is then that St. Paul’s words ring true: “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.”
At our darkest moments, we know from what direction our Light comes. And we know we’re not alone in the dark. Our God is right there with us, guiding us, connecting us, empowering us to find a way forward.
Yes, we are like seeds in that we harbor untold potential at our darkest moments. But we are much more than seeds. Seeds are genetically predisposed to turn into a particular sort of plant. We are endowed with reason and empowered by love to be co-creators with God of the future that lies before us. We are the hands and heart of a God who loves us more than we can ask for or imagine. Yes, we are seeds, but so much more.