Tag Archives: difficulty

A Story to Share: The Seed Blooms

This is a story God gave me this morning in prayer. It’s been quite a struggle to write it up with ‘flu, but anyway, it spoke into my circumstances, and I hope it might be a blessing to you too. x

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The Seed Blooms

The seed was formed on the head of a hydroponically grown flower, in a long greenhouse. It had only vague memories of this time, as all of us struggle to remember well our earliest moments. It did remember the feeling of the hot sun, sliding down through sloped glass, prismed into an unnatural temperature, and that one day, just as he was feeling at his fullest, someone knocked the back of his mother’s head and he fell into a hessian sack. Most of his brothers and sisters came too, though a few fell to the ground, and some were left behind, holding onto the dying flower head for all they were worth.

From the hessian sack, the seeds were poured into tiny, foil-lined packets, and sealed shut. There was no air to breathe, no light to see by, no heat to warm them, no moisture, not even space to speak into or call one’s own. Surely this nothingness, if it were death, would soon pass. But it did not. And nor did the seed think it was anything so natural as passing on. For where had they come to? It was nowhere and nothing.  By and by, many of the seeds took to simply sleeping, for what else was there to do in the packet?

But the seed we are thinking of used his time differently. He used it to let fly the only thing he had left of his own, his imagination. He imagined growing. He imagined the sun on his back, he imagined something he had never experienced but felt the need of in his innards, he imagined the warm, living texture of soil. He imagined the creatures that might exist there, he imagined how it might feel to grow, he imagined beauty. He thought about what colours he and all his siblings might be, if they were ever allowed out into the world. He imagined being who he was meant to be, in all his singing glory.

The seed packet was sent in a lorry with thousands of other packets to a garden centre on the outskirts of a city. More and more gardens were being paved over by the city folk, because who had the time to deal with wildness any more? Far easier to tend concrete. So, the seeds did not sell well, and many of them languished there for years. Can you imagine years spent locked up in the vacuum of dark, knowing you were meant to feel the gentle warmth of sunlight? Can you wonder how it might feel to be imprisoned in airless silence, when you knew you were meant to breathe deep of fresh air and grow tall? Can you sense how awful it must be to feel dry and listless, not even able to dehydrate, but just be sure that you were rotting somehow, when you were certain that you were meant to be bursting into life through vibrant, nutritious, rich soil? When you knew there were the beginnings of roots inside you that were meant to delve and dive? The seed did not have to imagine this hellish existence, for it was his life.

The dark dreariness seemed that it would never end. Indeed, he had nothing but a softly dripping hope in the underworld of his soul that it ever would. There was no reason for the hope, except that he could not totally bring himself to believe that he existed for nothing, and that the colours and songs in his heart were never to be seen or sung. The hope was deeply painful, and sometimes he wished that it would shrivel up and die, and that he would too, because most of the time it seemed a pointless life and a cruel hope with no foundation.

Unbeknownst to the seed, his packet, stuck behind so many others in the Garden Centre, was almost beyond its sell-by date. There was no guarantee any more that any of the seeds in his packet would ever live. They were moved to a big bin in the centre of the aisles, near the checkout, with a big sign, “Bargain bucket, 10 packets for a pound.” The shop had a new manager, and she wanted to get rid of some of this old stock. If it didn’t sell in a week, she’d throw all of them in the skip.

Six days went by. On the seventh, a little girl called Amy came into the store with her grandmother, who was 86. They went over to the seed packet section and came away shaking their heads. They only had Amy’s pocket money to spend, and all the packets were too expensive. They headed sadly back out, but just as they were passing the checkout, Amy’s Grandma saw the sign. They went over to the bucket, and Amy began to dry her eyes.  She looked at the bin, then at her grandma, who smiled, and then opened her red-mittened palm to check that she did indeed have enough money. The two fifty pence pieces twinkled back at her under the fluorescent lights.

The manager was marching past and paused briefly, mid mission, to say, “No guarantee on these, they may not grow, past their best you see.” She waved the back of her hand at them with a dismissive flick, her duty discharged, and walked on.  Amy’s Grandma frowned, “Well, I’m past my best too, Amy, shall we give them a chance?”  Amy nodded, and put her coins in her pocket whilst they picked out ten packets of seeds.

A day later, the seed’s packet was carefully ripped open, and a small, shaking hand received him with glee, along with many of his brother and sister seeds.
“Now be careful, make sure you trail them along the row, not too close together. Give them room to breathe,” said an adult’s voice that sounded a lot like Grandma. And the seed was astonished to feel fresh, cold air. For a moment, he could not understand what was happening. He had been so long in his prison, that the space all around him was overwhelming.

It was good to be dropped down into something soft and cloying. He felt the urge to nestle down.  Was this, could this be, soil? Soil that he had dreamt about all his long life? And then, before he had time to take this in, there came a drizzle of something wet, along the furrow where his packet had been carefully sown. But the strangest thing of all, was that there was light. He had only vague memories of light, and had begun to think that it had all been a dream, the greenhouse, his mother, the feeling of warmth and growth, and yet, he could see. He truly believed he could see. Not only earth, but sky! It was quite a shock after spending so long in the dark, cold, airless packet. He was silent in wonder.

“Now, cover them over. Carefully, children! Pat them down just a little and give them some more water.  That’s it.”

And no sooner had the seed begun to get used to the light, than it disappeared again. The soil was pushed over him, gently, so that it was not, when he got used to it, so dark as he’d feared. He breathed a long sigh, one that had been trapped in him for a very long time indeed. He had not, as he had at first feared, been put back into a packet, but was where he belonged, in the earth! In the good, mulchy, wonderful, smelly, rich, earth! He wiggled himself comfortable, relishing the freedom of movement which had never been his. How delightful it was to be able to stretch himself and feel alive. He felt a funny feeling in what he supposed were his toes, as they wanted to stretch down into the soil and dance. He felt more moisture from above and the warmth of the sun beating down, even on this cool Spring morning.

Every day after that brought a new surprise, and a new adventure. At first, he felt so full of joy he could split open, and then, very soon, did just that, and those dancing feet pushed out of his casing and down into the good earth. Little tendrils grew out and nuzzled into the soil, sucking up nutrients. The seed was nourished for the first time in his life and he burst into life above as well, pushing a green shoot up through the grains of mud into the air.

In a very few weeks, he was as tall as the children’s wellingtons. They came every day, without fail, and were almost as excited to see the seeds grow as the seeds themselves  were, to be growing. They oohed and aahed, and watered and watched and waited. The plant, for now he was no longer a seed, could see a little sign that read, “Community Garden Project,” and beyond this was a small allotment, and beyond that a trio of tower blocks, where the children all lived. Amy was the sweetest of them all, and tended to her plot with a care and sensitivity that warmed the old lady’s heart, as well as the grateful heart of the seed she had rescued.  He grew as much for her as himself and before he knew it, there was a bud forming at his topmost leaf.

It felt wonderful, finally, to bloom. After so long hidden away, with no idea that he might ever taste the open air, or see the sun, let alone be able to grow and become. He knew what was tucked away inside him, he had always known, but to be given the chance to let it be, that was truly something. No guarantee, just as the manager had said, but here he was all the same, bursting into glorious orange, and filling Amy’s heart and his own, fit to burst with long anticipated joy.

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt photo from Pixabay

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83: Injustice

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When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” 1 Peter 2:23 NIV

Turning the other cheek, as Jesus counselled us to do, is a difficult teaching for many of us. As a former doormat, I used to let people not just walk all over me, but grind their muddy boots into my soul as well. It took me a long time to realise that this was not what the Lord was recommending. We should not seek out suffering, nor is it wrong to protect ourselves from hurt. Boundaries and self-defence mechanisms are necessary tools for getting through life. But when we are insulted or treated badly, it is our reactions that should mark us out as different.

The reason for this, as I have come to understand it, is that whatever is happening to us in the earthly, we maintain as God’s children, our integrity, which is eternal. Julian of Norwich saw in her understandings from the Lord that our true selves are incorruptible and stay close to God’s breast all the while we are alive. Nothing can touch or harm them in any way that will impact the eternal, the true and manifest wholeness and perfection of them. So although suffering hurts us of course, it cannot hurt that unreachable self whom God keeps close. This is why Paul (or whoever the writer of Hebrews was) said “What can man do to me?” echoing Psalm 56 amongst others. It seems we might answer, “Well, quite a lot, actually,” but when we remember that this same man had been beaten, stoned, jailed, shipwrecked and persecuted for following Christ, we must take these words seriously.

For my own part, I think that any kind of insult or abuse loses its power over us when we bear it with gentleness. So yes, we call injustices what they are, and as far as possible we protect ourselves and others from ill treatment, and from inflicting it. Systematic abuse must be escaped and challenged whenever possible, this righteous anger and action is also part of following Jesus: we stand up for widows, orphans, and speak for the voiceless. But where it is appropriate and we are able to, turning the other cheek can be an effective tool for the gospel. It was certainly when I bore the bullying silently and without redress that my school peers got bored of tormenting me. “For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God,” says Peter in his first letter (chapter 2, v 19) and he is talking about the severe injustices borne under slavery.

This bearing with the sorrows of today with quiet dignity because we live in the knowledge of eternity (whilst owning our own wholeness and integrity kept safe within the bosom of our God) is the heart of gospel living to this man who walked closely with Jesus. It might rankle with us today, but there is a deep and precious wisdom and a powerful witness in patient, gentle endurance, especially when paired with forgiveness, and Peter, for one, believed it changed those hurting us.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay

177: Marsh

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Waders and bitterns shy away into the reedy beds, and the salt water comes to mix death with life as is the case everywhere on land. What you find when you look into the sodium shallows, murky with nightmares, may challenge you, may frighten you out of your wits, but it must be faced, if you are to skirt this place and continue your journey.

For this is a betweening place, a not-sea, not-land minefield of slow rushes and long rough. A place for sinking not standing, to be passed through and never built on, unless you are a fool or a bird happy in a house made of straw. Everything here is washed away over and over, tide after tide, and the cries of migrants call harsh on the wind.

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

Photo from morguefile.com

 

 

163: Pothole

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Collapsed under the sheer weight of traffic, implosion caused by heavy loads that were never yours to bear, not for you to carry, even for that one moment in which they passed over, rumbling in thundering juggernauts. Now you stand, cracked and broken, dug out to the composite core, fissures filling with rainwater, and see no way out. There is no budget for repairs, no end to the emptiness, and you sink down and spread out in your misery, and even your edges are lost to you.

Road pock now avoided by all, leper of the lane, I pray might you now find a calm in the centre of the highway that you grace. Might you now relax into your frayed borders, new crow’s feet cracks forming as you take the time to laugh in the rain. Might you now, perhaps, sometimes sing of what lies beneath the smoothness and teach all of us how to make ponds and gardens out of the sinkholes in our lives.

 

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016