The parable of the sower is found in Matthew 13 (it’s also the title of a really great distopian/utopian novel by Octavia E Butler). A farmer flings seeds everywhere, indiscriminately, and this is an image of the realm of God.
This is not the way to farm.
Wasting precious seed by throwing it around everywhere – where the birds will get it and the sun will scorch it and the weeds will choke it. And if you’re lucky some of it will fall on good soil and actually produce a harvest.
Read like a DIY guide for the new tree change farmer, this is ridiculous.
The absurd might lead away from logic, but it also might lead towards insight.
What if the world really is strewn – indiscriminately – with good seed?
What if my life, with all its various and changing landscapes from rocky to thorny to pathless to rich and loamy, is riddled with good seed?
Across it all.
The worst bits and the best bits.
Every bit, seeded.
Every bit hosting the potential for life.
Life to be carried off to somewhere else where it will grow and flourish.
Life to be there for a moment, and then be gone.
Life to take root and give fruit.
If the Sower can be so carefree, then why can’t I?
Why do I get so hung up on trying to control the outcome?
What if the stores of love that are mine to sow are rotting in the barns while I decide where to put it; which bit is worth the risk; where will I get the best return or yield?
What if I could skip the soil testing…
like the phone call after the arrest related to seeking answers to when will children be released from detention:
“but we don’t know what kind of people they are,” the caller warned.
They are the people kind of people, I suggested.
People whose lives read like landscapes – rocky here, thorny there, pathless in this patch and but some good soil too.
People like us.
As deserving of love as the rest of us, which is to say both yes and no.
But the job isn’t to decide who’s worthy, the job is to love.
Why can’t we love these people while we process their claims for refuge? Love them with freedom of movement and freedom from fear, with recognition of common humanity and the meeting of fundamental human needs for dignity and hope?
Love and grace – that spaciousness that allows us for new beginnings, fresh shoots – these are not currencies of merit to be metered out upon proof of worth. It was as scandalous then as it seems now. In the culture of the first hearers of the story, everything was thought to be finite, including love and honour. There was only so much to go around and all of it had to be earned. One must prove one’s worthiness. We aren’t so different today. Ask anyone in a Centrelink line how it makes them feel to prove themselves worthy of assistance in time of need. Ask anyone who thought getting rich would make them relaxed and happy but it hasn’t because now they fear they aren’t good enough to hang onto it; they are shadowed by the worry that someone will find out how ordinary they are and take away these trophies, symbols of being better than the rest.
This story, the parable of the Sower, is good news for every single one of us. We may have thought that there was work to be done to make us worthy of love and grace, of deep-down acceptance of who we are. But there is not. Our lives are already riddled with good seed. It is not if and when we clear our lives of rocks and thorns that we become lovable. We just are, loved.
Thinking like this might lead us to imagine that to say someone has “gone to seed” could be a good thing. It might mean we have allowed ourselves to let go of the need to be productive in favour of the hope to be of service; to spend energy giving ourselves away rather than fixing ourselves up. To give ourselves away like one of those puffy dandelions we used to blow on as children and delight in the scattering of seeds. (Now, I know, dandelions are weeds; but they do serve to make the children happy. As outcomes go, that’s a good one.)
So whilst there is no logic to our story for today, there is a great deal of hope.
We should be warned off from it as a farming manual.
But as a message of hope it’s pretty good.
The Sower has loved the rocky bits and the thorny bits and the pathless bits and the good bits.
Yes, only the good bits produce a real crop…
but the other bits feed the birds
and return nutrients to the soil
and spring up with beauty for a moment.
Who are we to judge these bits unworthy? The Sower doesn’t judge them; the Sower seeds them with potential.
This is not the way to farm. But it is the way to love.
Consider the action of a sower: it is letting go. It’s flinging. It’s indiscriminate.
What if we wake up and move through our days flinging love around indiscriminately. What a lark. We might even find ourselves whistling.
posted 18 Jul 2014 by Jana