Pondering The Sowing of Seeds for Lent 2012

As I was tidying up my blog I decided to repost this one which was done last year as much of it seems relevant to this coming season of Lent which begins next week on Ash Wednesday.

(The links to the scripture readings immediately below no longer work as the site was revamped, but the Gospel was on the sower and the seed which I think most people know pretty well).

I've been mulling, or should that be mulching (?) over the rich theme of sowers and seeds which feature abundantly in this Sunday's scripture readings at Mass. 

My other reflections for this Sunday are here. ( This link is working!)

Alongside the parables , poetry and a little prayer give me the open door to pay better attention to ponder all the seeds given to me in my life so far: seeds of faith and doubt, of life and freedom,of joy and despair, of love and death.

I think of those dandelion seeds of faith that have carried me away from the safety of my home to far flung places I could only dream of .
In places where my faith has grown alongside others who have carefully planted and nurtured me, friends who have watered the soil in which my seeds have grown

and all those who have weeded out my failings and questions for me and those who sustain me in my faith and hope.

I think of  those who gently, patiently
but firmly confront my rambling and
disordered growth
whilst I often ignore the necessary
and painful work of pruning !

I think of a few seeds I have squandered and scattered on my wilful way through life
on misguided paths
whether of sand, dry stones, or along rocky paths that stood no chance of germinating
and yet also the wild paradox that in some of the most unlikely encounters and places my seeds of faith have grown.

I think of my greed to grasp more seeds than I can ever need or can ever grow in the space I have and how others in the Third World cannot buy or grow their seeds except shackled to the chains of corporate business because of my careless and extravagant exploitation of their space. Read this true tale of corporate seed greed ; only example of many.

I think of the times when I could have shared the seeds of my harvest with others but didn't and how I have choked the growth of seeds given to me in my own anxiety instead of just carrying on with the task in hand and trusting in God, rather than getting preoccupied with my own efforts.

I think of the pollution I make that causes seeds to lay waste on my planet
or to become distorted mutants robbed of  their natural original inherent beauty and potential,

to my contribution to the loss and extinction of plant and animal biodiversity that robs us and future generations of it's heritage,

how I shirk my God given responsibility to protect life as fellow steward of the earth. 

I think of the seeds of the community of faith that I belong to

and how I dream for that to be the rich harvest of fruit God intended for it.

I think of the seeds of faith that are choked and stifled by thorny canons and dogmas that can no longer fertilise growth, 

Diversity in dry common beans

the spent seeds of bygone days, that should be outstripped by the diverse vigour of new hybrids

whose promise is unknown, but whose place in evolution is inevitable.

This fine homily here also sheds valuable light on the unlikely and unexpected places where seeds can grow !

The work of these two poets that follow seem to amply fulfil the example of "the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

Robert Hayden was an American poet who witnessed the struggle for human rights against racial discrimination in the sixties and also wrote about the Vietnam war.

Although this first poem was written for a specific time it's meaning and sentiments are generic and it's easy to substitute the places in the first sentence with a multitude of others and can even be extended to ecology, institutions, groups, and individuals

Monet's waterlilies represents an iconic and illusionary idyll and Banksy's distorted and adulterated image below shocks us into a more mundane reality.

Monet's Waterlilies
by Robert Hayden

Today as the news from Selma and Saigon
poisons the air like fallout,
I come again to see
the serene, great picture that I love.

Here space and time exist in light
the eye like the eye of faith believes.
The seen, the known
dissolve in iridescence, become
illusive flesh of light
that was not, was, forever is.

O light beheld as through refracting tears.
Here is the aura of that world
each of us has lost.
Here is the shadow of its joy. 


Having lived under the two great totalitarian systems of modern history, national socialism and communism, Polish Czeslaw Milosz wrote of the past in a tragic, ironic style that paradoxically affirmed the value of human life.

The faith of his Roman Catholic upbringing was severely tested, but always remained intact.  

Catastrophes always and ever define the nature of every age and just as then, we now often are up against the collision of personal and public realms.

Milosz was a witness to the Nazi devastation of Poland and the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe, and Milosz dealt in his poetry with the central issues of our time that may play out with different costumes and different stage sets but the script we try to interpret and make meaning of is similar: the impact of events large and small in our history upon our moral being, and our endless search for ways to survive spiritual ruin in a ruined world.

"The aim of Milosz is: to go back and work through the detritus of one's own time on earth,
to gather up the worst along with the best, integrate past and present into a culminating moment which transcends both,

which embraces pain and joy together, the whole of a life and a world redeemed through memory and art, a final restoration in spirit of that which in historical fact has been forever lost.

Whilst Milosz was a Catholic, he would not identify himself as a "Catholic writer, because he said"if you are branded as a Catholic, you are supposed to testify with every work of yours to following the line of the Church, which is not necessarily my case."

Breslin concluded that Milosz's highly individual voice, with its call to faith and hope in the face of darkness, is one "we need to hear in our new and already deeply troubled century." 

Krzysztof Dybciak in World Literature Today. said of Milosz "At a time when voices of doubt, deadness, and despair are the loudest; when writers are outstripping each other in negation of man, his culture, and nature; when the predominant action is destruction . . . , 

the world built by the author of 'Daylight' creates a space in which one can breathe freely, where one can find rescue.

It renders the world of surfaces transparent and condenses being.
It does not promise any final solutions to the unleashed elements of nature and history here on earth, but it enlarges the space in which one can await the second coming of Christ with hope. 

Milosz does not believe in the omnipotence of man, and he was deprived of the optimistic faith in the self-sufficiency of a world known only through empirical experience. 

He leads the reader to a place where one can see—to paraphrase the poet's own formula regarding time—Being raised above being through Being."

Now that fits in with the seed and the sower just nicely !

Above edited and adapted by me from biography of Czeslaw Milosz at Poetry Foundation.

 At A Certain Age
Czeslaw Milosz


We wanted to confess our sins but there were no takers.
White clouds refused to accept them, and the wind
was too busy visiting sea after sea.
We did not succeed in interesting the animals.
Dogs, disappointed, expected an order,
A cat, as always immoral, was falling asleep.
A person seemingly very close
Did not care to hear of things long past.
Conversations with friends over vodka or coffee
Ought not to be prolonged beyond the first sign of boredom.
It would be humiliating to pay by the hour
A man with a diploma, just for listening.
Churches. Perhaps churches. But to confess there what?
That we used to see ourselves as handsome and noble
Yet later in our place an ugly toad
Half-opens its thick eyelid
And one sees clearly: “That’s me.”


The word Faith means when someone sees
A dew-drop or a floating leaf, and knows
That they are, because they have to be.
And even if you dreamed, or closed your eyes
And wished, the world would still be what it was,
And the leaf would still be carried down the river.

It means that when someone’s foot is hurt
By a sharp rock, he also knows that rocks
Are here so they can hurt our feet.

Look, see the long shadow cast by the trees;
And flowers and people throw shadows on the earth:
What has no shadow has no strength to live.
Czeslaw Milosz

Let It Grow by Eric Clapton -  
So that's really all any of us can do
"Plant Your Love and Let it Grow " !!

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