“Look, Mom! Look what I got in my Happy Meal from McDonald’s! Seeds! Radish seeds! Do I like radishes? Can I grow them? Please?”
I wasn’t sure what quality those seeds were or how long they’d been sitting around in that packet. But I wasn’t about to disappoint my youngest. I just hoped the seeds wouldn’t be the ones to disappoint him.
I showed Noah a small, out-of-the-way spot where he could cultivate his crop and then helped him prepare the soil to welcome those tiny, tiny seeds. Carefully he patted down the rich Arkansas dirt and began the long process of waiting.
To our delight, it wasn’t long before the tiny plants began to poke their heads to the sunlight. Within a few weeks the harvest was ready. I must say it was fun for me to watch the tears smarting his eyes as he crunched down on that red globe, determined to enjoy his first fruits of farming.
I grew up helping my dad with an enormous garden that kept our family and countless neighbors and friends in fresh produce throughout the northern Michigan summer. Good Friday, no matter how early it occurred, was always the date for planting peas and onion sets. Mom would yell down from the upstairs window, “Get those girls inside! Their fingers must be numb by now!” My sister and I would wait for the nod from Dad and then scamper through the snow flurries into the warmth of the house.
Meanwhile, other seeds… corn and beans… would be snuggling between layers of paper towels in my mom’s best baking pans. Lovingly my father would sprinkle water on his little darlings, peeking under their blanket to check for the first signs of sprouting. He just knew they had a better chance of growing to maturity if he gave them a head start.
Some things my dad didn’t grow from seeds, though he could have. Tomatoes and sweet peppers, for instance. He felt those young seedlings he purchased from the local nursery would more likely prosper if they had already taken root.
Probably the most determined seeds are what some people call “volunteers.” These are the ones that fall from already mature plants. Some of these orphaned seeds are blown into welcoming bits of soil, while others make their start in sidewalk or brick wall cracks. Sometimes what come from them are the most determined and hardy plants of all. Maybe it’s because they had to fight so hard to get a start in life with the hope that someone wouldn’t reject them and pull them up by the roots.
Kids and seeds make good pals. I remember playing with maple tree seeds, watching them helicopter down to the ground when we’d throw them up to the sky or drop them from a ledge.
Those big puffy “blow flowers” delighted my little ones for hours as we watched the dandelion seeds parachute to the neighbor’s lawn. It took just a gentle puff to create a flurry of white. These days I cup my hand around each white ball, crush it in my fingers, and then carefully carry it to the garbage can.
When we plant seeds, it can be the beginning of an actual plant. It also can be the beginning of a thought, an idea. Or a worry, a doubt. Depending on our perception and also our view of the world, we take advantage of an inspiration… or descend into the waiting arms of negativity.
I learned at one of our national parks that there are some pinecones that won’t release their seeds unless they reach an extreme temperature… unless there is a fire. Only then can new life begin. Only then is there the chance for renewal.
When we’re “under fire” we also release seeds. For some of us it can be those seeds of faith that remind us we are never alone. At other times our vulnerability and weakness allow the seeds of doubt to germinate or even take root.
But when things are really “hot” that’s when I know the Lord is releasing a shower of His own precious seeds… the faith of those around me. The reminders that He is still in control when I’m determined that it’s not true. Gently He blankets me in His love, hovering over me to see when I’m strong enough to take on a new challenge, a new opportunity. Knowing just when it’s time for me to get back out in the field, in His garden.
My Heavenly Father doesn’t allow me to dwell in the shadow of despair. He knows just how strong I am and what I’m able to handle. He knows He’s given me the best start in my faith life, one that He continues to nurture in countless ways and through those He sends into my life.
And He would never think of rejecting me or pulling me up by the roots, no matter what kind of start I had or what I had done to disappoint Him.
It’s those seeds of hope that I know I need to cultivate… by constantly allowing Him to weed out my negative thoughts. And then feeling Him shower those hope-filled seedlings with the Sonshine of His love.