Wasteful Gardening (The Parable of the Sower)

This recent Texas winter killed off a lot of our plants. When my mom and I went to a local nursery for some herbs and flowers, they seemed to be in good business, because everyone was replanting their gardens.

I’ve been wondering about how to tend to/heal our inner gardens. Sowing seeds of hope in a world so volatile, the bitter cold might nevertheless extinguish our progress and leave them buried in the snow.

I’ve been tempted to hold my packets of seed close to my chest, waiting for the warm season to reawaken my courage. It feels extravagant to be dreaming of an unawakened future. But I am reminded of the parable of the sower (Matthew 13), who generously, recklessly, scattered their stock through all types of terrain.

Traditionally, we are warned to “be the fertile soil” and not the sun-exposed rock / thorny patches. I get that meaning, as it is worthwhile to be aware of the state of our faith. But the kin-dom seems indiscriminate of where to extend her welcome. It’s almost arrogant to believe that we can “decide” whether we become worthy ground to provide the conditions for God’s involvement in the world. Of course we can partner with God’s work! But perhaps, there is another layer of reading.

Some have suggested that we are seeds, and that we flourish in different environments and communities. Depending on the people, our environment can be suffocating, shallow, or nourishing. It’s another valuable interpretation, to remind ourselves to be planted in the Beloved Community in order to receive life and produce abundantly.

However, I have been leaning into another notion that the parable is about neither the soil, nor the seeds, but rather the sower.

I love the way that @BeckyWrites puts it:

“For this sower, it seems more about quantity of seeds than anything else. Why bother throwing seeds where they will get scorched by the sun, eaten by birds, or choked out by weeds. Yes—some of the seeds failed to grow. But instead of ending up with nothing, he ends up with bushels of tomatoes, tons of zucchini, and countless bouquets of flowers.

“This parable encourages all of us to go out and throw seeds of faith around everywhere. Although the world feels scary and unsettling right now, I would like to encourage you to keep sowing seeds of faith everywhere and anywhere. You never know what will take root. May we sink our roots into the soil of Christ, and continue to sow hope and love wherever we walk.”

Let us take heart that after the winter, our generous sowing may yet yield a hundred fold. May our barren lands welcome the unlikely harvest. May we have the courage to keep throwing our seeds away.

Photo by Dương Trí

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