Sometimes in these early morning hours I wonder what kind of seed I have planted along my journey’s way. Did I plant “good” seeds in my children? Have I planted seeds in the lives of those I’ve rubbed shoulders with through the years? This thought came to me as I looked up momentarily and saw Thomas Merton’s book on the shelf: Seeds of Destruction, a series of letters he wrote about where he would plant himself in the struggles and issues of our society. He also wrote an earlier book called Seeds of Contemplation. So, I’m contemplating: How, where, and when have I planted myself as “seed?” Were they “good” seeds or “seeds of destruction?” Probably it has included a little bit of both kinds. The planting of seed is always a great gamble. It is not always a question of good seed or bad seed; a great part of the planting depends heavily upon where the seed (good or bad) is sown.
“A sower went out to sow. And it happened that as he sowed, some seed fell along the footpath; and the birds came and ate it up. Some see fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil, and it sprouted quickly because it had no depth of earth; but when the sun rose the young corn was scorched, and as it had no root it withered away. Some seed fell among thistles; and the thistles shot up and choked the corn, and it yielded no crop. And some of the seed fell into good soil, where it came up and grew, and bore fruit…If you have ears to hear, then hear…(Mark 4:3-9).
It is not only a matter of where the seed lands—it is also a matter of how the world deals with the seed. “You shall bring out much seed to the field but you will gather in little, for the locust will consume it. You shall plant and cultivate vineyards, but you will neither drink the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm will devour them. You shall have olive trees throughout your territory, but you will not anoint yourself with the oil for your olives will drop off…Crickets shall possess all your trees and the produce of your ground…” (Deuteronomy 28:38ff).
We all “bring out much seed to the field” of life. We sow our seed as we live, for living my life is both the seed and the planting process. Where have I planted myself? I hope with Robert Frost that “Love burns (has burned) through the Putting in the Seed.”
You come to fetch me from my work tonight
When supper’s on the table, and we’ll see
If I can leave off burying the white
Soft petals fallen from the apple tree.
(Soft petals, yes, but not so barren quite
Mingled with these, smooth bean and wrinkled pea;)
And go along with you ere you lose sight
Of what you came for and become like me,
Slave to a springtime passion for the earth.
How love burns through the Putting in the Seed
On through the watching for that early birth
When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed,
The sturdy seedling with arched body comes