Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Planting for Spiritual Renewal: Post 5

[Jesus] told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.  Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”  (Matthew 13)

That's a good parable and it holds a lot of spiritual truth.  But, this prairie farmer is not going out scattering seed the way Jesus' farmer did.  Nosirree.  Not when that seed costs $100 an acre and is coming out of his "hobby" pocket.  When Woody and I planted the prairie we wanted to make certain that every expensive seed made contact with the soil in such a way that germination and growth would be optimized.  To that end we hooked up my John Deere tractor to a Great Plains seed drill with a native seed box and designed to open a shallow furrow, drop the warm season grass and wildflower seeds, and cover and slightly compact the furrow, pressing the seed into the soil.  We seeded the field and hillside (as the picture above show) going one lengthwise.  Then we went widthwise.  And then we drove across at angles.  

It was intensive work.  A little tractor pulling a big seeder that weighed as much as it did.  We had to be careful to go the right speed to get the seed into the ground.  Woody drove.  I helped by riding on the back and keeping the seed stirred and jumping off the seed drill to make sure seed was dropping freely and at the right amount.  

All of this serves as a good parable for Quaker revitalization and renewal, I think.  While Jesus is promiscuous in his seed of life sowing, even he recognized that the the seed grows best in ground that's ready to receive it -- good soil.  We have good soil in many of our meetings.  Soil that is ready to receive the Seed. 

To maximize growth, we would do well to use a spiritual seed drill -- to open up furrows, place the seed carefully, cover it over, tamp it down and allow the Spirit to water it and bring it to life.  I referred to some of the seeds in my post immediately previous to this one.  The difference between a prairie and our spiritual life is, though, that careful, intentional seeding is constant for the spiritual life.  We need to be intentional -- individually and corporately -- about getting the Seed in contact with the soil of our souls.  Our seed drills may vary -- spiritual deepening classes, spiritual story telling, outward practices, inward practices, adult religious education opportunities.  We may use a variety (or all!) of these things over and over as we move across the fields of faith.

Intention and frequency are the key words here, I think.  We need, as the Religious Society of Friends to be offering intentional and frequent spiritual seedings in our meetings.  Just as there is no one prairie management plan, so to is there no one plan for spiritual seeding in a meeting.  We need to find what works for our soil -- our souls.  And then get to it. With care, prayer, and intention.


S. R. said...

These are great blog posts. Thanks for writing them.

The one think I would add is to this is loving community -- because it covers all the bumps on the way, and enables all the other pieces like sharing of spiritual stories and others. Loving others and being loved is a form of preparation for worship and a form of worship itself. It seems to be an entry point (Crossing (point) (over)) for the holy coming into the ordinary and the ordinary flowing back into the holy for God coming into this world and us going toward God/ communicating with (I don't have this quite right...). We love others, we love God, God is love, etc.. It is the root of the testamoines and a space in which we encounter God. I have this image of love coming down and up and in from all sides.

Also I wonder if that quote might be related to "letting your life speak" type seeds as well -- like yes we need to have programs and services, but the (lord?) YHVH (burning bush?) (spirit?) flows into all parts of life as well. If we are on infertile ground we may not be as close to our guide as we think.

Brent Bill said...

Good thought. Loving community is indeed important.