The Seed Shop

 Potting Shed Illuminated Model Image from here and description below:-
 "A memory of renovating an old Japanese Water Garden on an estate in North Devon. A walled garden was there with its original Victorian Potting shed, including old flower pots, seed packets and even the gardener's pencil and his tea mug. All secretly tucked away into the corner of the garden, covered by ivy."

This week the Pope's resignation has me thinking of ageing and tiredness, reflecting on the sprinkling seeds of faith scattered here and there in my own finite life, sometimes exploding into verdant growth, or burgeoning in deep dormancy.

This beautiful poem by Muriel Stewart below is a metaphor for faith and life in evolutionary terms and the present events taking place in my own Catholic Church too. 

The Seed Shop

Here in a quiet and dusty room they lie,
Faded as crumbled stone or shifting sand,
Forlorn as ashes, shrivelled, scentless, dry

Meadows and gardens running through my hand.
Dead that shall quicken at the call of Spring,
Sleepers to stir beneath June’s magic kiss,

Though birds pass over, unremembering,
And no bee seek here roses that were his.
In this brown husk a dale of hawthorn dreams,

A cedar in this narrow cell is thrust
That will drink deeply of a century’s streams,
These lilies shall make summer on my dust.

Here in their safe and simple house of death,
Sealed in their shells a million roses leap;
Here I can blow a garden with my breath,

And in my hand a forest lies asleep.

Muriel Stewart 1885-1967. 

It has felt like an especially long and harsh winter and at this time of year the thought of Spring and "June's magic kiss" seem almost out of reach. But I mentioned in a previous post here Thomas Merton's view of Lent remembers the original meaning of Lent as the "Ver sacrum", the church's 'Sacred Spring' in which the catechumens were prepared for their baptism, less a season of punishment so much as one of healing.

In his poem " What To Remember When Waking",  David Whyte asks
What shape
waits in the seed
of you to grow
and spread
its branches
against a future sky?

by Ireena Worthy from Flickr

and I think of those astonishing words from the Sunday Mass reading here from a few weeks ago..

 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you."

It's beyond my understanding, but as we wait for the Cardinals to appoint a new Pope my faith tells me to hold these words in my heart and know that the Holy Spirit will blow where she will, scattering her seeds of hope and renewal among all of us.

We await a new Spring in our church.  

Batik from Pinterest

Fr. Richard Rohr, in his book Wondrous Encounters for Lent " says: "The sacrificial instinct is the deep recognition that something always has to die for something bigger to be born. We started with human sacrifice of Abraham and Isaac and moved to animal sacrifice; the ritual killing of the Passover lamb in Exodus 12 and we gradually get closer to what really has to be sacrificed - our own beloved ego- as protected and beloved as a little household lamb.

We will all find endless disguises and excuses to avoid letting go of what really needs to die and it is not other human's firstborn sons of Egyptians, animals, lambs or goats or even meat on Fridays that God wants or needs. It is always our false self that has to be let go which is going to die anyway.........

"By becoming the symbolic Passover Lamb, plus the foot-washing servant in John’s Gospel, Jesus makes the movement to the human and the personal very clear and quite concrete. 
 It is always “we,” in our youth, in our beauty, in our power and over-protectedness that must be handed over. 

Otherwise, we will never grow up, big enough to “eat” of the Mystery of God and Love.  It really is about 'passing over' to the next level of faith and life.  And that never happens without some kind of 'dying to the previous levels'"  

 "As I grow older, I find more and more people, in all fields of life, who seem more and more trapped and unfree. They seem unable to adjust to their own growing truth. The price is just too high, and so they choose security over honesty.

 In my field, I see bishops, priests, and ministers, who in moments of private honesty, reveal they do not really believe this or that any more, but they have to pretend to believe it to be faithful to the persona they built and created in their first 40-50 years.

 After a while, they actually think they DO believe it, but their lack of enthusiasm, commitment, or joy shows you that they do not.
 It is so much easier to repeat formulas and keep everybody–and your own soul–at bay. I would say this pattern represents the norm not the exception, at least in the church.

So many are split personalities. And why wouldn’t they be? In fact, it would seemingly be predictable with the mystery of God always unfolding and leading us to ever further depths. If you do go to the depths, the price of speaking your honest truth from that level is just too high. 

Imagine all the people you would upset! It will call your job and self image into question.

 Plus, it is like throwing your previous life script out the window and admitting that much of it was mistaken. But that should be a given–if we are at all growing! The steps toward maturity are necessarily immature.Hold onto your first half of life agendas with a light grip, or you may never get to your second half of life–at least spiritually speaking.
This has become clearer to me in the many daringly honest conversations I have had with older people since the publication of FALLING UPWARD, on “the two halves of life”.
Yes, we must write ourselves a life script. We have no choice, but do not make it too public too certain and too superior, or you might just find yourself trapped there forever–defending the immature and indefensible position.

 Could this be what Jesus means by the necessity of “dying to the self”? The same is, of course, true for politicians and all public identities. Many of our politicians are more eager to be loyal Democrats or Republicans than honest about their own human experience. Image wins out over substance far too often.

"I am doing a short study of the Letter to the Ephesians on this lovely Sunday morning, and have had time to absorb some of its amazing insights. Paul, or whoever wrote it, says that the exact meaning of the cross is that “Jesus destroyed in his own person the hostility” between groups

 (In fact, he repeats it twice in both 2:14 and 2:16) Jesus did not take sides with his Jewish religion against the pagans, but instead he did a most amazing thing, which we have yet to comprehend. The author says that he destroyed the hostility “THAT WAS CAUSED BY THE RULES AND DECREES OF THE LAW”. 

 In other words, the very identification of his group (or any group) with its own customs and practices is what justifies their hostility toward another group, and maintains their own superiority system–which is always violent in maintaining itself. 

Is this not the core historical problem that continues to justify most hostility to this day? My group versus your group thinking? We do it this way and you do it the wrong way? Think of the genocides of the last century, which were usually in Christian based cultures, to realize how we have missed the message.

 Ephesians says that Jesus “killed” or “destroyed” the very ground of this hostility by himself being killed “under the law” (with the blessing of both religion and state), and thus revealing the limitations, blindness, and often complicity in evil of what are usually nothing more than cultural customs passing for divine law.

 Our “sacred order” is usually maintained at someone else’s expense. This is so much of a surprise that most of us still refuse to be surprised–and also disappointed in our capacity for missing the profound revelation from the cross of Jesus. 

 Ephesians goes on to say that Jesus is trying to “create one single New Humanity” (2:15). We are still waiting for this new single humanity. It could still change history, and it eventually will, but probably we have to hit bottom first–and see how our sacralized beliefs and customs are themselves much of the problem."

    More seeds of thought for reflection from Fr. Richard Rohr in this video.


                             PBS Religion and Ethics  Transcript of video here

H/T To RJ at When Love Comes To Town Blog for this lovely image above.

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