“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12: 24-25.
As my friend Cheryl and I meditate on this scripture, a picture pops into my head: the garden, here at Cloudland, our very first spring on the property. It is a fairyland, this garden. Dame’s Rocket runs rampant, a riot of varying shades of lavender, lilac, blushing-bride pink. It’s everywhere, this tall, cone-shaped wildflower often mistaken for phlox. An intoxicating perfume wafts through the air as the flowers wave in the breeze.
“We’ve got to pull some of this stuff out,” the yard guy says. He’s been caring for this garden for years, and we’re hoping he’ll stick around to help us out, neophyte gardeners that we are.
“No,” I answer firmly. “I love it. The more of it, the better.”
“But, it’s taking over,” he answers, pulling a bandana out of his pocket to wipe his forehead.
“Good!” I answer. “I want it to take over.”
Little did I know, at that point, that Dame’s Rocket proliferates by seed. And all those beautiful flowers, waving their pretty purple heads in the breeze, are loaded with seeds. Even when pruned, Dame’s Rocket comes back.
Our first winter here at Cloudland, the garden snoozed, brown and gray; not much to look at. Then came spring, and Dame’s Rocket was everywhere, and I mean, everywhere. You couldn’t see the hosta or day lilies or columbine, or anything else, for that matter. As the yard guy predicted, the Dame’s Rocket had taken over.
By that point, the yard guy was gone, having followed the woman whose house we’d bought to her new place in town. He probably didn’t want to work with a wanna-be gardener like me who didn’t do her homework.
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
Come early summer, the Dame’s Rocket died. It produced many seeds. Its seeds fell to the ground, they germinated over the winter, and in the spring, they produced many flowers. Hundreds of flowers. Thousands of flowers. Now I know it’s okay to prune them back once they’ve died. The garden not only looks better rid of those bare, leggy, straggly stems; every time I pull one up and shake it, seeds scatter, ensuring a yield of a hundred-fold in the coming year.
What if I allow myself to die? What if I quit holding on so tight to some of these things that I can’t bear to let go? My sons’ happiness. My mother’s happiness. My husband’s happiness. My plans for Joel’s future. My plans for Cloudland. My plans for me.
Hmmm. I see a pattern here. Everyone else’s happiness, and my plans…my plans…my plans.
What happens if I let these things go, let them die, let these seeds be buried in the ground that is me. What if I let the Lord prune me? If I quit squirming or just plain running away when He gets out those pruning shears? What will grow up in the seasons to come?
My garden tells me…the Scriptures tell me…I will become a garden running rampant with flowers that wave in the breeze of the Holy Spirit, producing the sweet aroma of Christ to God.
I sit on the porch this morning, June almost gone, the corn bowing down in the wild wind that flew in with the dawn. Corn, planted as seed in May, miraculously filling the fields today, growing toward the fulfillment of harvest.
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Lord, I give it all up to you. Tend these precious seeds, Father/Mother/Yard Guy God. I will wait, in anticipation, just as I wait for my fairyland of a garden each spring.