Sowing: Suffering and Wholeness

. . . a Universal Wholeness waits beneath our brokenness the way a torn seedpod lets all its seeds drop through its tear to germinate the Earth. A good deal of our suffering comes from not going deeply enough into the personal to make it through, and so we get stuck between the surface and the deep.

Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, Mark Nepo

I think of sowing in the spring time as such a joyful and exciting thing, and for me it almost always is.  Something in me wakes up out of winter darkness and begins to plan the garden, choose the seeds and plants, prepare, dig, sow, wait.  New life appears.

Sowing is joyful, but to leave it at that is a little shallow.  A little sanitized from the rest of life. As if springtime came in a shiny white envelope from a seed company.  As if new life is something that I can plan and order through the mail.

I’ve had the occasion more than a few times, to follow seed from hand to ground to growing plant to blooming buds to harvested fruit, whether that harvested fruit was something to eat or flowers to enjoy or herbs to cook with.  I’ve been allowed to follow even further to the point where what is left of the plant that came from the seed is some dried up, not so attractive shriveled thing that looks like refuse.  That ugly old thing is the seed pod that contains in its ugliness the very life that this plant in its growing and producing has set aside for its own future.

Ugly old seedpods are easy to cut out, rake up and throw away.  The end of the growing year comes, and a tidy worldview says:  it’s over–clear it all away and settle into the dark again.  If we dare press down into what looks dried up, shriveled, old and ugly we will find the vitality of life–in the new set of seeds waiting to be sowed into new soil.  But, we have to go there.  We have to be willing to wait with death, endure into our grief, press down into the ugly, go deeply enough.

Waiting underneath our personal pain is a Universal Whole.  To find it, we have to be willing to go there, stay there, and see.

Bob Patrick

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