Of seeds & sowers, gardens & growing

When people try to bury you, remind yourself you are a seed.
― Matshona Dhliwayo

Your heart is full of fertile seeds, waiting to sprout. — Morihei Ueshiba

The seed is in the ground. Now may we rest in hope, while darkness does its work.
~ Wendell Berry

Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution.— Norman Vincent Peale

From seeds of his body blossomed the flower that liberated a people and touched the soul of a nation. — Jesse Jackson

We are a seed patiently waiting in the earth: waiting to come up a flower in the Gardener’s good time, up into the real world, the real waking. I suppose that our whole present life, looked back on from there, will seem only a drowsy half-waking. We are here in the land of dreams. But cock-crow is coming. — CS Lewis


  I the grain and the furrow,
The plough-cloven clod
       And the ploughshare drawn thorough,
The germ and the sod,
The deed and the doer, the seed and the sower,
the dust which is God.
— Algernon Charles Swinburne, Hertha (excerpt)

SONGS about SEEDS & GARDENS
Planting Seeds by Nimo ft. Daniel Nahmod (folk/rap): https://youtu.be/5AmqYcWjBmc
• The Seed by Aurora (pop/indie): https://youtu.be/_Mc_OM5oNA8
• Garden Song performed by John Denver & Muppet (folk): https://youtu.be/D3FkaN0HQgs
• Garden Song by Dave Mallett (folk): https://youtu.be/2m0LewjkO4s
• My Little Seed by Woodie Guthrie (folk): https://youtu.be/aO1HSp2soiA
• A Seed’s a Star by Stevie Wonder (rock/pop): https://youtu.be/KEK7tMxXRpo
• Plant the Seeds by Digging Roots (folk/indie): https://youtu.be/9EmLqdmvUDQ
• Sowing the Seeds of Love by Tears for Fears (rock): https://youtu.be/VAtGOESO7W8
• Will It Grow by Jake Dylan (pop/folk): https://youtu.be/b0nFyEM0aHU
• Secret Garden by Rolf Lovland (piano/instrumental): https://youtu.be/-sWnEWpS_fA
• Seeds by Kathy Mattea (folk): https://youtu.be/61D5AU3SG7A
• Octopus’s Garden by The Beatles (rock): https://youtu.be/De1LCQvbqV4
• Poppy Seed Heart by Tom Billington (folk/rock): https://youtu.be/KdHpYiBoxKs
• The Olive Tree by Judith Durham (folk): https://youtu.be/agvbSC2rmDg
• Seed Song by Giants in the Trees (pop): https://youtu.be/RDpftwzTdjk
• The Seed by The Roots (rap/soul): https://youtu.be/ojC0mg2hJCc
• Seed Song by the Mountain Goats (country): https://youtu.be/bZi2FhOOXKc
• Mustard Seed by David Ashley Trent (Christan): https://youtu.be/uS6Er6I2nbM
• Rain Only Matters / Expecting a Harvest by William McDowell Music (gospel): https://youtu.be/JgBSwIGnS-s
• Planting Seeds of Love by Pam Donkin (folk): https://youtu.be/B5uUyM128M0

SEED SONGS (Kid Music):
• Seed Song by the Ark Collective (kids music): https://youtu.be/OBatjl0BRQg
• Roots, Stems, Leaves, Flower by Firefly Family Theater (kid music): https://youtu.be/9bFU_wJgvBI • I’m a Little Seed by Leslie Bixler (kids music): https://youtu.be/9oRarzP4oyU
• One Seed by Laurie Berkner (kids song): https://youtu.be/jDtehB-BpIA
• Seed Dispersal by Mr R’s Teaching Songs (kids music): https://youtu.be/3CCOWHa-qfc
• Una Semilla/The Seed by 123 Andres (kid music): https://youtu.be/02L8Y9z7McM
• The Farmer Plants the Seeds by Kiboomer (kids music): https://youtu.be/VxlGDAMqFkU
• The Seed Song by Let’s Roll Snowball (kids music): https://youtu.be/Cd2O4utPw6c
• Take a Little Seed by Tom Pease & Stuart Stotts (kid music/storytelling song session): https://youtu.be/O7St5L8fzX4
A Short Story of Falling
Alice Oswald

It is the story of the falling rain
to turn into a leaf and fall again

it is the secret of a summer shower
to steal the light and hide it in a flower

and every flower a tiny tributary
that from the ground flows
green and momentary

is one of water’s wishes and this tale
hangs in a seed-head smaller
than my thumbnail

if only I a passerby could pass
as clear as water through
a plume of grass

to find the sunlight hidden at the tip
turning to seed a kind
of lifting rain drip

then I might know like water
how to balance
the weight of hope against
the light of patience

water which is so raw
so earthy-strong
and lurks in cast-iron tanks
and leaks along

drawn under gravity t
owards my tongue
to cool and fill the pipe-work
of this song

which is the story of the falling rain
that rises to the light
and falls again

Earth, Teach Me — Native American Prayer, unattributed

Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.

Prayer for a Garden — Maren Tirabassi

God, we need peace – so we come to the garden for quiet.
We need joy – so we come to the garden for our senses —
the green of leaf,
the rich crumbling smell of soil,
and the scent of pine needle,
the sounds of small life, of chipmunk and bird,
that come and go in all places natural,
the rough texture of gravel, the delicacy of a flower petal.

We need to let things go – so we come to the garden for rest,
and we need to let people go,
so we come to the garden to remember them.

We need hope – so we come to the garden to watch things grow
reminding ourselves to be planters
and to enjoy what others have planted.

We need benches where we can begin to let Sabbath in our lives.
We need paths to help us recognize our own journeys.
We need a justice commitment to environment,
a global commitment that calls us to action,
but we also need a small square of real earth
to root our speeches and to get our hands dirty.

We need community – so we come to this garden
to give and receive a shared blessing
(not the result of our personal winter catalogues,
spring compost, summer weeding)
to give and receive a shared blessing
from the hand of the Sower of seeds. Amen

OF SEEDS

By cultivating the beautiful we scatter the seeds of heavenly flowers, as by doing good we cultivate those that belong to humanity. — Robert A. Heinlein

We know we cannot plant seeds with closed fists. To sow, we must open our hands. — Adolfo Perez Esquivel

By cultivating the beautiful we scatter the seeds of heavenly flowers, as by doing good we cultivate those that belong to humanity. Share this Quote Robert A. Heinlein
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/seeds-quotes A seed neither fears light nor darkness, but uses both to grow.― Matshona Dhliwayo

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. — Robert Louis Stevenson
Inside the seed are many trees… Inside You are many kingdoms. ― Bert McCoy

Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed. — Robert H. Schulle

You were designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness. — Zig Ziglar
Deep in the secret world of winter’s darkness, deep in the heart of the Earth, the scattered seed dreams of what it will accomplish, some warm day when its wild beauty has grown strong and wise. ― Solstice

The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances. We carry the seeds of the one or the other about with us in our minds wherever we go. — Martha Washington

Failure holds the seeds for greatness – so long as you water those seeds with introspection, they can be the root of your success. —Daniel Lubetzky

The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success.— Paramahansa Yogananda

I think that any time of great pain is a time of transformation, a fertile time to plant new seeds. — Debbie Ford

Help young people. Help small guys. Because small guys will be big. Young people will have the seeds you bury in their minds, and when they grow up, they will change the world.— Jack Ma

Dreams are the seeds of change. Nothing ever grows without a seed, and nothing ever changes without a dream. — Debby Boone

Words are also seeds, and when dropped into the invisible spiritual substance, they grow and bring forth after their kind.— Charles Fillmore

Man is a competitive creature, and the seeds of conflict are built deep into our genes. We fought each other on the savannah and only survived against great odds by organising ourselves into groups which would have had a common purpose, giving morale and fortitude. — Robert Winston

I hope that upon this scorched earth we have planted the seeds of ideas that will bear the fruit of more diverse and inclusive stories ….  Wilson Cruz

The vegetable life does not content itself with casting from the flower or the tree a single seed, but it fills the air and earth with a prodigality of seeds, that, if thousands perish, thousands may plant themselves, that hundreds may come up, that tens may live to maturity; that, at least one may replace the parent.— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The dispersal of juniper seeds is effected by the plum and cherry plan of hiring birds at the cost of their board, and thus obtaining the use of a pair of extra good wings. — John Muir

Women of this planet need some essential resources: wells, seeds and roads. That is primarily all we have ever needed. Added to that, women need righteous and strong men who will help us to use our most cherished gifts: the ability to multitask and problem solve. — Roseanne Barr

Harvest Gathering Phoebe Cary

The last days of the summer: bright and clear
    Shines the warm sun down on the quiet land,
Where corn-fields, thick and heavy in the ear,
    Are slowly ripening for the laborer’s hand;
Seed-time and harvest — since the bow was set,
Not vainly has man hoped your coming yet!
 
To the quick rush of sickles, joyously
    The reapers in the yellow wheat-fields sung,
And bound the pale sheaves of the ripened rye,
    When the first tassels of the maize were hung;
That precious seed into the furrow cast
Earliest in spring-time, crowns the harvest last.
 
Ever, when summer’s sun burns faint and dim,
    And rare and few the pleasant days are given,
When the sweet praise of our thankgiving hymn
    Makes beautiful music in the ear of Heaven,
I think of other harvests whence the sound
Of singing comes not as the sheaves are bound.
 
Not where the rice-fields whiten in the sun,
      And the warm South casts down her yellow fruit,
Shout they the labors of the autumn done —   
      For there Oppression casts her deadly root,
And they, who sow and gather in that clime
Share not the treasures of the harvest-time.
 
God of the seasons! thou who didst ordain
      Bread for the eater who shall plant the soil,
How have they heard thee, who have forged the chain
      And built the dungeon for the sons of toil?
Burdening their hearts, not with the voice of prayer,
But the dull cries of almost dumb despair.
 
They who would see that growth of wickedness
      Planted where now the peaceful prairie waves,
And make the green paths of our wilderness
      Red with the torn and bleeding feet of slaves —
Forbid it, Heaven! and let the sharp axe be
Laid at the root of that most poison tree!
 
Let us behold its deadly leaves begin
      A fainter shadow o’er the world to cast,
And the long day that nursed its growth of sin
      Wane to a sunset that shall be its last;
So that the day-star, rising from the sea,
Shall light a land whose children will be free!

LETS PLANT SOME SEEDS TOGETHER — Rachel Held Evans, full article: https://rachelheldevans.com/blog/plant-seeds-women

… the most effective thing we can do is participate in the life-giving and subversive act of planting new trees: 

  • trees that have the roots of equality from the very beginning.
  • trees that gain nourishment from a free-er gospel and soil that is enriched with freedom and hope instead of fear and absolute certainty.
  • trees that have men and women and rich and poor and educated and uneducated and black and white and gay and straight all tangled up together from the beginning.
  • trees that are tended to gently and naturally instead of pumped with unnatural growth agents & pesticides that try to advance the progression of development to “catch up faster” to other churches that will always have the advantage of time and power on their side.
  • trees that get their strength from the beatitudes not the latest and greatest how-to-grow books and conferences.trees that are well-watered by people who are tired of talk and are ready for action.
  • trees that over time will flourish and bring shade and fruit and all kinds of other goodness for generations to come in the communities & cultures where they are planted.
  • a diverse ecosystem of trees that more accurately reflect the fullness of God’s image. 

 [Read the rest of the post here.] …

1. What sort of seeds will you start planting in your life … ?

KINGDOM of GOD & MUSTARD SEEDS

The kingdom is like a tiny mustard seed, he said, that grows into an enormous tree with branches wide and strong enough to make a home for all the birds. It is like a buried treasure, a delicious feast, or a net that catches an abundance of fish. The kingdom is right here, Jesus said. It is present and yet hidden, immanent yet transcendent. The kingdom isn’t some far-off place you go when you die; the kingdom is at hand—among us and beyond us, now and not-yet. It is the wheat growing in the midst of weeds, the yeast working its magic in the dough, the pearl germinating in a sepulchral shell. It can come and go in the twinkling of an eye, Jesus said. So pay attention; don’t miss it. ― Rachel Held Evans

The Reign of God is Jesus’ message, but he never describes it literally. He walks around it and keeps giving different images of the Real. For example, the mustard seed is very small and insignificant, and the kingdom is “like” that. Pliny the Elder, a contemporary of Jesus, wrote an encyclopedic book called Natural History, in which he describes all the plants that were known in the Mediterranean world. He says two main things about the mustard plant: it’s medicinal, and it’s a weed that cannot be stopped:

Mustard . . .  with its pungent taste and fiery effect is extremely beneficial for the health. It grows entirely wild, though it is improved by being transplanted: but on the other hand when it has once been sown it is scarcely possible to get the place free of it, as the seed when it falls germinates at once. [1]

The two images on which Jesus is building in this parable of the mustard seed are a therapeutic image of life and healing, and a fast-growing weed. What a strange thing for Jesus to say: “I’m planting a weed in the world!” Jesus’ teachings of nonviolence and simplicity are planted and they’re going to flourish, even wildly so. The old world is over.
— Richard Rohr, entire article: https://cac.org/daily-meditations/the-kingdom-is-like-a-mustard-seed-2020-11-16/

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:
stay together
learn the flowers
go light

— Gary Snyder

SPIRITUAL SEEDS

Everyone, from almost every tradition, agrees on five things:
Rule 1: We are all family.
Rule 2: You reap exactly what you sow, that is, you cannot grow tulips from zucchini seeds.
Rule 3: Try to breathe every few minutes or so.
Rule 4: It helps beyond words to plant bulbs in the dark of winter.
Rule 5: It is immoral to hit first.
— Anne Lamott

Although nature has proven season in and season out that if the thing that is planted bears at all, it will yield more of itself, there are those who seem certain that if they plant tomato seeds, at harvesttime they can reap onions.
       Too many times for comfort I have expected to reap good when I know I have sown evil. My lame excuse is that I have not always known that actions can only reproduce themselves, or rather, I have not always allowed myself to be aware of that knowledge. Now, after years of observation and enough courage to admit what I have observed, I try to plant peace if I do not want discord; to plant loyalty and honesty if I want to avoid betrayal and lies.
      Of course, there is no absolute assurance that those things I plant will always fall upon arable land and will take root and grow, nor can I know if another cultivator did not leave contrary seeds before I arrived. I do know, however, that if I leave little to chance, if I am careful about the kinds of seeds I plant, about their potency and nature, I can, within reason, trust my expectations. — Maya Angelou

It is memory that provides the heart with impetus, fuels the brain, and propels the corn plant from seed to fruit. — Joy Harjo

There are two kinds of compassion. The first comes from a natural concern for friends and family who are close to us. This has limited range but can be the seed for something bigger. We can also learn to extend a genuine concern for others’ well-being, whoever they are. That is real compassion, and only human beings are capable of developing it. — Dalai Lama

Everything we do seeds the future. No action is an empty one. — Joan D. Chittister

Whether we have happiness or not depends on the seeds in our consciousness. If our seeds of compassion, understanding, and love are strong, those qualities will be able to manifest in us. If the seeds of anger, hostility and sadness in us are strong, then we will experience much suffering. To understand someone, we have to be aware of the quality of the seeds in his consciousness. And we need to remember that his is not solely responsible for those seeds. His ancestors, parents, and society are co-responsible for the quality of the seeds in his consciousness. When we understand this, we are able to feel compassion for that person. With understanding and love, we will know how to water our own beautiful seeds and those of others, and we will recognize seeds of suffering and find ways to transform them. — Thich Nhat Hanh

… our capacity to listen, to be plowed up by what we hear so that we can nurture the seeds of divinity when we encounter them. If we resist being unsettled and loosened and turned into good soil, then the religiosity that has gotten us this far will begin to slip away. We will abandon the spiritual life and say that it was doing nothing for us.  But if we accept our discomfort and truly listen with open ears, even knowing that what we hear might change and disrupt us, we will begin to grow, and find our capacity to see and hear expanding day by day. — Karl Stevens, article: https://dsobeloved.org/luke-81-25-being-the-good-soil/

Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it gems of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men. Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them: for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity and love. — Thomas Merton

We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way—centred on money or pleasure or ambition—and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown. — CS Lewis

Carbonized grains of wheat unearthed
From the seventh millennium B.C. town of Jarmo
In the Tigris-Euphrates basin
Match the grains of three kinds of wheat still extant,
Two wild, one found only in cultivation.
The separate grains
Were parched and eaten,
Or soaked into gruel, yeasted, fermented.
Took to the idea of bread,
Ceres, while you were gone.
Wind whistles in the smokey thatch,
Oven browns its lifted loaf,
And in the spring the nourished seeds,
Hybrid with wild grass,
Easily open in a hundred days,
And seeded fruits, compact and dry,
Store well together.
They make the straw for beds,
They ask the caring hand to sow, the resting foot
To stay, to court the seasons.
— Josephine Miles, Fields of Learning (excerpt)

The Pomegranate Kahlil Gibran

Once when I was living in the heart of a pomegranate, I heard a seed
saying, “Someday I shall become a tree, and the wind will sing in
my branches, and the sun will dance on my leaves, and I shall be
strong and beautiful through all the seasons.”
 
Then another seed spoke and said, “When I was as young as you, I
too held such views; but now that I can weigh and measure things,
I see that my hopes were vain.”
 
And a third seed spoke also, “I see in us nothing that promises so
great a future.”
 
And a fourth said, “But what a mockery our life would be, without
a greater future!”
 
Said a fifth, “Why dispute what we shall be, when we know not even
what we are.”
 
But a sixth replied, “Whatever we are, that we shall continue to
be.”
 
And a seventh said, “I have such a clear idea how everything will
be, but I cannot put it into words.”
 
Then an eight spoke—and a ninth—and a tenth—and then many—until
all were speaking, and I could distinguish nothing for the many
voices.
 
And so I moved that very day into the heart of a quince, where the
seeds are few and almost silent.

By the Waters of Babylon:
III. The Sower.

Emma Lazarus

1. Over a boundless plain went a man, carrying seed.

2. His face was blackened by sun and rugged from tempest, scarred and distorted by pain. Naked to the loins, his back was ridged with furrows, his breast was plowed with stripes.

3. From his hand dropped the fecund seed.

4. And behold, instantly started from the prepared soil blade, a sheaf, a springing trunk, a myriad-branching, cloud-aspiring tree. Its arms touched the ends of the horizon, the heavens were darkened with its shadow.

5. It bare blossoms of gold and blossoms of blood, fruitage of health and fruitage of poison; birds sang amid its foliage, and a serpent was coiled about its stem.

6. Under its branches a divinely beautiful man, crowned with thorns, was nailed to a cross.

7. And the tree put forth treacherous boughs to strangle the Sower; his flesh was bruised and torn, but cunningly he disentangled the murderous knot and passed to the eastward.

8. Again there dropped from his hand the fecund seed.

9. And behold, instantly started from the prepared soil a blade, a sheaf, a springing trunk, a myriad-branching, cloud-aspiring tree. Crescent shaped like little emerald moons were the leaves; it bare blossoms of silver and blossoms of blood, fruitage of health and fruitage of poison; birds sang amid its foilage and a serpent was coiled about its stem.

10. Under its branches a turbaned mighty-limbed Prophet brandished a drawn sword.

11. And behold, this tree likewise puts forth perfidious arms to strangle the Sower; but cunningly he disentangles the murderous knot and passes on.

12. Lo, his hands are not empty of grain, the strength of his arm is not spent.

13. What germ hast thou saved for the future, O miraculous Husbandman? Tell me, thou Planter of Christhood and Islam; tell me, thou seed-bearing Israel!

Seeding an Alphabet
Emily Warn

To invent the alef-beit,

decipher the grammar of crows,

read a tangle of bare branches

with vowels of the last leaves

scrawling their jittery speech

on the sky’s pale page.

Choose a beginning.

See what God yields and dirt cedes

when tines disturb fescue, vetch, and sage,

when your hand dips grain from a sack,

scattering it among engraved furrows.

Beyond the hill, a plume of dust

where oxen track the hours.

Does God lead or follow or scout?

To answer, count to one again and again:

a red maple leaf and a yellow maple leaf

that wind rifles and rain shines until they let go,

blazing their scripted nothingness on air.

Meditations on building houses (and lives) on sand vs stones: stumbling blocks, cornerstones, keystones, living stones

MATTHEW 7: 24-28 – Hearers and Doers – “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”

How … bring forth a garden on hard stone? Become earth, that you may grow flowers of many colors. For you have been heart-breaking rock. Once, for the sake of experiment, be earth! — Rumi

Poet to Bigot — Langston Hughes
I have done so little / For you,
And you have done so little / For me,
That we have good reason / Never to agree.
I, however, / Have such meagre / Power,
Clutching at a / Moment,
While you control / An hour.
But your hour is / A stone.
My moment is / A flower.

And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer. — Psalm 78:35

SONGS about Sand and Stones:


To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour. — William Blake


Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground.
Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are.
― Rumi


The Stones – Wendell Berry
I owned a slope full of stones.
Like buried pianos they lay in the ground,
shards of old sea-ledges, stumbling blocks
where the earth caught and kept them
dark, an old music mute in them
that my head keeps now I have dug them out.
I broke them where they slugged in the dark
cells, and lifted them up in pieces.
As I piled them in the light
I began their music. I heard their old lime
rouse in breath of song that had not left me.
I gave pain and weariness to their bearing out.
What bond have I made with the earth,
having worn myself against it? It is a fatal singing
I have carried with me out of that day.
The stones have given me music
that figures for me their holes in the earth
and their long lying in them dark.
They have taught me the weariness that loves the ground,
and I must prepare a fitting silence.


Do Stones Feel?  — Mary Oliver

Do stones feel? Do they love their life?
Or does their patience drown out everything else?

When I walk on the beach I gather a few
white ones, dark ones, the multiple colors.
Don’t worry, I say, I’ll bring you back, and I do.

Is the tree as it rises delighted with its many
branches, each one like a poem?
Are the clouds glad to unburden their bundles of rain?

Most of the world says no, no, it’s not possible.
I refuse to think to such a conclusion.
Too terrible it would be, to be wrong.



The Book of Camp Branch (excerpt) — Wendell Berry

How much delight I’ve known
in navigating down the flow
by stepping stones, by sounding
stones, by words that are
stepping and sounding stones.

Going down stone by stone,
the song of the water changes,
changing the way I walk
which changes my thought
as I go. Stone to stone
the stream flows. Stone to stone
the walker goes. The words
stand stone still until
the flow moves them, changing
the sound – a new word –
a new place to step or stand.

COMMENTARY on PARABLE of BUILDING a HOUSE on ROCK vs SAND

The picture is not of two men deliberately selecting foundations, but it contrasts one who carefully chooses and prepares his foundation with one who builds at hap-hazard. This is more strongly brought out by Luke (Luke 6:48): “Who digged and went deep, and laid a foundation upon the rock” … — Vincent’s Word Studies (full artilcle)


In the practical order, we find our Original Goodness, the image of God that we are, when we can discover and own the faith, hope, and love deeply planted within us:

  • A trust in inner coherence itself. “It all means something!” (Faith)
  • A trust that this coherence is positive and going somewhere good. (Hope)
  • A trust that this coherence includes me and even defines me. (Love)

… Being created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) gives everyone an equal and inherent dignity. However, in every age and culture, we have seen regressions toward racism, sexism, homophobia, militarism, ableism, and classism. This pattern tells me that unless we see dignity as being given universally, objectively, and from the beginning by God, we humans will constantly think it is up to us to decide… For the planet and for all living beings to move forward, we can rely on nothing less than an inherent original goodness and a universally shared dignity. Only then can we build, because the foundation is strong, and is itself good. Surely this is what Jesus meant when he told us to “dig and dig deep, and build your house on rock” (Luke 6:48). When we start with yes (or a positive vision), we are more likely to proceed with generosity and hope, and we have a much greater chance of ending with an even bigger yes, which we would call “resurrection.” — Fr Richard Rohr (full article)


… what Jesus himself taught and spent most of his time doing: healing people, doing acts of justice and inclusion, embodying compassionate and nonviolent ways of living… Jesus was teaching an alternative wisdom that shakes the social order instead of upholding the conventional wisdom that maintains it. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is not about preserving the status quo! It’s about living here on earth as if the Reign of God has already begun (see Luke 17:21). In this Reign, the Sermon tells us, the poor are blessed, the hungry are filled, the grieving are filled with joy, and enemies are loved. — Fr Richard Rohr (full article)


As in all hilly countries, the streams of Galilee rush down the torrent-beds during the winter and early spring, sweep all before them, overflow their banks, and leave beds of alluvial deposit on either side. When summer comes their waters fail (comp. Jeremiah 15:18; Job 6:15), and what had seemed a goodly river is then a tract covered with debris of stones and sand. A stranger coming to build might be attracted by the ready-prepared level surface of the sand. It would be easier to build there instead of working upon the hard and rugged rock. But the people of the land would know and mock the folly of such a builder, and he would pass (our Lord’s words may possibly refer to something that had actually occurred) into a by-word of reproach. On such a house the winter torrent had swept down in its fury, and the storms had raged, and then the fair fabric, on which time and money had been expended, had given way, and fallen into a heap of ruins. Interpreting the parable in the connection in which our Lord has placed it, it is clear that the house is the general fabric of an outwardly religious life. “The rock” can be nothing else than the firm foundation of repentance and obedience, the assent of the will and affections as well as of the lips. The “sand” answers to the shifting, uncertain feelings which are with some men (the “foolish” ones of the parable) the only ground on which they act—love of praise, respect for custom, and the like. The “wind,” the “rain,” the “floods” hardly admit, unless by an unreal minuteness, of individual interpretation, but represent collectively the violence of persecution, of suffering, of temptations from without, beneath which all but the life which rests on the true foundation necessarily gives way. Such is obviously the primary meaning of the parable here, but, like most other parables, it has other meanings, which, though secondary, are yet suggestive and instructive, and are not unsanctioned by the analogy of our Lord’s teaching. (1.) Already He had bestowed upon one of His disciples the name of Cephas, Peter, the Rock, and in so doing had at least indicated the type of character represented by the “rock” upon which the wise man built. When He afterwards said, “Upon this rock will I build my Church,” He was speaking in the character of a wise Master-builder who saw in fervent faith and unhesitating obedience the ground-work on which the Christian society, which He designated as His kingdom, was to rest. — Ellicott’s Commentary (full artilcle)


Palestine was to a considerable extent a land of hills and mountains. Like other countries of that description, it was subject to sudden and violent rains. The Jordan, the principal stream, was annually swollen to a great extent, and became rapid and furious in its course. The streams which ran among the hills, whose channels might have been dry during some months of the year, became suddenly swollen with the rain, and would pour down impetuously into the plains below. Everything in the way of these torrents would be swept off. Even houses, erected within the reach of these sudden inundations, and especially if founded on sand or on any unsolid basis, would not stand before them. The rising, bursting stream would shake it to its foundation; the rapid torrent would gradually wash away its base; it would totter and fall. Rocks in that country were common, and it was easy to secure for their houses a solid foundation. No comparison could, to a Jew, have been more striking. So tempests, and storms of affliction and persecution, beat around the soul. Suddenly, when we think we are in safety, the heavens may be overcast, the storm may lower, and calamity may beat upon us. In a moment, health, friends, comforts may be gone. How desirable, then, to be possessed of something that the tempest cannot reach! Such is an interest in Christ, reliance on his promises, confidence in his protection, and a hope of heaven through his blood. Earthly calamities do not reach these; and, possessed of religion, all the storms and tempests of life may beat harmlessly around us. — Matthew Henry’s commentary (full artilcle)


The teacher explained how each thing in the lesson had a much deeper meaning …— Gwen Schnell

  • The house is much more than just a house! It is like our life and what we do with it.
  • The storm-wind, rain, and floods are like troubles or problems that come into our lives, maybe like temptations.
  • The strong rock is like Jesus. He helps us when we are having troubles, like the storm. Jesus helps stay strong and do the right thing and trust in Him.
  • The soft sand is like worldly things. It’s whatever you may trust in INSTEAD of Jesus. It’s not strong or reliable. You will not find the help you need to be strong and do the right thing if you trust in anything or anyone but Jesus.
  • The wise man was someone who listened to Jesus and obeyed Him, the foolish man was someone who did not.

LIVING STONES: Definition, Context, Commentary

The term living stones … is used as a metaphor to illustrate the secure and intimate relationship … with Jesus … — Gotquestions.org (full article)

The lively stone is us — all who belong to Jesus — and the Living Stone is Jesus. — Shari Abbott

Wherever, in any world, a soul, by free-willed obedience, catches the fire of God’s likeness, it is set into the growing walls, a living stone. — Phillips Brooks

As we come together, each of us a living stone, we are built into something greater through the power of Jesus Christ. We are special and important and Christ is alive in us and waiting for us to actually be a living stone. To take risks and live and breath everything through the power of Jesus Christ. — Ministry Matters (full article)

The “rock-stone” image imagery is common in Scripture. As Hillyer says, “There is, for example, the stumbling stone of Isaiah 8:14, the foundation stone of Isaiah 28:16, the parental rock of Isaiah 51:1f., the rejected but vindicated building stone of Psalm 118:22, the supernatural stone of Daniel 2:34 and the burdensome stone of Zechariah 12:3” (Norman Hillyer, “Rock-Stone Imagery in 1 Peter”, The Tyndale Bulletin, 22 [1971] 58). There is fair evidence that “Rock/Stone” was a messianic title among the Jews as well as among the Christians…  — Edwin Blum

Four Stones — Mary Oliver

On the beach, at dawn:
Four small stones clearly
Hugging each other.

How many kinds of love
Might there be in the world,
And how many formations might they make

And who am I ever
To imagine I could know
Such a marvelous business?

When the sun broke
It poured willingly its light
Over the stones

That did not move, not at all,
Just as, to its always generous term,
It shed its light on me,

My own body that loves,
Equally, to hug another body.

SAND: Definition, Context, Commentary

… a loose granular material that results from the disintegration of rocks, consists of particles smaller than gravel but coarser than silt, and is used in mortar, glass, abrasives, and foundry molds. — Merriam-Webster definition

Sand is a granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles. Sand has various compositions but is defined by its grain size. Sand grains are smaller than gravel and coarser than silt… Sand is a non-renewable resource over human timescales …— Wikipedia

We see God separating that which is holy apart, and setting it aside for himself in many places in Scripture. But conversely, the Hebrew word for sand, חול (chol), is the same as the word for “secular” or “ordinary” – that which is not set aside or holy… The dense dusty sand that hung over Israel was a good reminder of how sin and worldliness works:

  • It clouds our vision and brings short-sightedness
  • It chokes and suffocates life
  • It makes it difficult to move up and out

— One for Israel (full article)

  … sand and gravel resources are the second-largest resource extracted and traded by volume after water.  — United Nations (full article)

CORNERSTONE: Definition, Context, Commentary

The cornerstone of something is the basic part of it on which its existence, success, or truth depends. — Collins Dictionary

In relation to architecture, a cornerstone is traditionally the first stone laid for a structure, with all other stones laid in reference. A cornerstone marks the geographical location by orienting a building in a specific direction.Over the years, cornerstones have served a variety of purposes. As a means to preserve time, buildings have been marked with a numerical representation to remind people when the building was erected. This has given correlation to architecture and the design of the time. Additionally, cornerstones have become a strong symbol of a new era. They have indicated prosperity and opportunity—showing a sense of pride for what is possible at the time of construction. Cornerstones have also been turned into pieces of memorabilia, marking present buildings or denoting previously standing buildings. …
As the commemorative qualities of cornerstones have become recognized, the locations of craftsmanship have expanded to stones near or above the front door of a building. — New Studio Architecture (full article)

Since ancient times, builders have used cornerstones in their construction projects. A cornerstone was the principal stone, usually placed at the corner of an edifice, to guide the workers in their course. The cornerstone was usually one of the largest, the most solid, and the most carefully constructed of any in the edifice. The Bible describes Jesus as the cornerstone that His church would be built upon. He is foundational. Once the cornerstone was set, it became the basis for determining every measurement in the remaining construction; everything was aligned to it. As the cornerstone of the building of the church, Jesus is our standard of measure and alignment. — Gotquestions.org (full article)

A cornerstone (Greek: Άκρογωνιεîς, Latin: Primarii Lapidis) will sometimes be referred to as a “foundation-stone”, and is symbolic of Christ, whom the Apostle Paul referred to as the “head of the corner” and is the “Chief Cornerstone of the Church” (Ephesians 2:20) — Wikipedia

CAPSTONE or KEYSTONE: Definition, Context, Commentary

… it was the Roman civilization (1000 B.C.E. – 500 C.E.) that first began using a keystone (also called a capstone) in their arches. The keystone is the topmost stone in the arch. The one in the illustration on the right is exaggerated in size from what a normal keystone would be. The keystone helped to distribute the weight down the side supporting blocks (voussoir blocks) of the columns. With this design, the keystone is the “key” to supporting the arch, because if you remove the stone, the arch would collapse. — Ask a Biologist (full article)

Jesus is the keystone of creation; bringing order from non-order and providing a resolution for the problem of disorder introduced by sin. — RJS summarizing Jonathan Walton’s argument, Patheos.com (full article)

God next speaks of the “capstone” or “headstone.” Some people have assumed that this was a foundation stone, but it is not. God is speaking about finishing the temple, not starting it. This is not the cornerstone, which is installed in the foundation, but the finishing stone—the very last one set. It can also be called the gable stone or even the keystone that would finish an archway. It is a symbol of completion. In this case, it represents the Temple being sufficiently ready for God’s habitation. This ought to be clear. He is alluding to the preparation of the church for God’s Kingdom... their job of measuring the Temple, the altar, and the worshippers will be successful. They will be successful by”grace, grace”—double grace. Their work will be accomplished only by an extra measure of God’s grace.— Richard Ritenbaugh

Do not look only for the beautiful, water-polished stones that represent Christ’s abundant gifts and graces that He’s given you in the happy, simple, and easy times.  Look also for the rough-edged rocks, and even the huge boulders, that represent Christ’s presence, provision, and protection in the most difficult, trying, and troubling times of life. — Shari Abbott

STUMBLING BLOCK: Definition, Context, Commentary

  1 : an obstacle to progress 2 : an impediment to belief or understanding — Dictionary

During our step-work, every time we got to the fourth step—Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves—the women gave me a lot of pushback… They felt that … “what they’d done wrong” was the focus of many of their classes. It felt exhausting to them… It was not a punitive action… What if we can identify the thing that keeps us from enjoying life to its fullest? Can we look at this exercise as a diagnostic tool? … Mark Thibodeaux, SJ, writes, “If we take an honest look at the mistakes we’ve made, we’ll see that many of them were a reaction to an unnamed fear within us.” Twelve-steppers agree with that statement. We are told that our character defects (sin) are our instincts run amok… Once those fears have been identified, we have something on which to work. The goal of this work is reconnection…. — Jean Heaton, Noticing My Stumbling Blocks (full article)

Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of anotherLet us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. — Paul’s Letter to Romans

Feeding the Mind: Books, Films & Conversations in our Community

  • Take a survey about books & themes that interest you to read and explore with Jackson Community Church. Help us offer programs that feed your mind & soul.
  • Upcoming book discussions: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, Tue, March 20, 4:30pm @ Jackson Library
  • Upcoming film screenings: “404 Not Found” about teen homelessness in NH with soup supper on Fri, Mar 23, 5-7pm @ Gibson Senior Center & “Cyrano deBergerac” film & discussion on Sun, Apr 29, 3-6pm, Whitney Community Center

Continue reading “Feeding the Mind: Books, Films & Conversations in our Community”

Reflections on Lent 2: Genesis 17 & Mark 8: names, identities, life, self.

Themes in Lenten readings from Genesis 17 and Mark 8 about claiming names, embracing new life, and transforming identity. Meditations on ideas such as “Taking up the cross” and “losing life to gain it.”
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
Song of Myself, Walt Whitman
Soul, if you want to learn secrets,
your heart must forget about shame
 and dignity.
You are God’s lover,
 yet you worry what people are saying.
Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi

Giving Up a Life, a Self, an Identity: Themes from Mark 8

Do not lose yourself in the past. Do not lose yourself in the future. Do not get caught in your anger, worries, or fears. Come back to the present moment, and touch life deeply. This is mindfulness. ― Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and LiberationWe begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be. The only problem is that there is also so much other stuff, typically fixations with how people perceive us, how to get more of the things that we think will make us happy, and with keeping our weight down. So the real issue is how do we gently stop being who we aren’t? … Here’s how I became myself: mess, failure, mistakes, disappointments, and extensive reading; limbo, indecision, setbacks, addiction, public embarrassment, and endless conversations with my best women friends; the loss of people without whom I could not live, the loss of pets that left me reeling, dizzying betrayals but much greater loyalty, and overall, choosing as my motto William Blake’s line that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love. — Anne Lamott, “Becoming the Person You Were Meant to Be: Where to Start” O, The Oprah Magazine

Continue reading “Reflections on Lent 2: Genesis 17 & Mark 8: names, identities, life, self.”

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