October 20, 2015

The Soil, The Seed, and The Harvest

Autumn has been hot and dry, or both, depending on the day or the time of day. Jeff and I walked early last night. The air was cool. Back to the north, in the valley, a haze was visible in the air. Our lungs sucked in the smoke from rice fields burning to the east brought in on the wind. The air and the wind held dust lifted from parched ground. My sinuses and nose gave me fits the rest of the night.

Autumn is my melancholy time of the year. I admitted it to my prayer group last week. I was transparent, taking the risk to pull away the veil and unmask with people who really don’t know me that well. Taking ownership, recognizing and acknowledging the truth, is freeing. At the least, confession is good for the soul and the first step to overcoming.

All during worship yesterday, while singing, worshipping, and into the afternoon when I put down the book I was reading to pray, whenever the word grace was spoken or came to mind, tears washed over my eyes.

I need grace like I need water. I come to God with nothing but brokenness, and by grace, receive nothing but love and acceptance.

It is the season to harvest. Jeff and I drove across and back through the delta this weekend. Most of the fields are harvested but there were a few combines still  rolling, gathering in great swaths of the late season soybeans. The plants had been stripped bare of their leaves… and then, the pods harvested. Soon the stems will be plowed under, readied for the next season, for the seed, the rain.

I studied the parable of the sower last week. It occurred to me that the seed producing the hundred-fold harvest in good soil was sown in soil prepared with the plow. The plow is suffering. It digs deep and opens the heart to hear---- or not, depending on the soil.

We can choose to be the hard path that stands stoically in the face of the plow and have none of it. The hard of hearing never grow anything that sustains life.

We can choose to be the rocky shallow soil that withers quickly when adversity comes. Rocky soil holds the weight of the world. It’s too much to hold, unbearable, but some choose to believe that to bear the weight of the world is their lot. Rocky soil grows only weeds.

We can refuse to be weighed down, and instead choose to be the thorny soil. Easily offended, thorny soil raises her defenses, clawing for ease among the riches of the world. We can be among those who demand the harvest without the plow or the hoe, living here and not there, letting what is choke out the life before us, of what could be if we submitted to the plow.

We can refuse the plow, but with our refusal, we refuse the harvest as well. The ground is broken before it becomes the good soil.

Maybe the stripping, the cut of the plow, the suffering is the only way we really can understand the power of grace? It’s true--- we have nothing to offer, except ourselves, our willingness to submit to the preparation. The wounding isn’t meant to kill us. It’s given to make us fruitful. Letting go of our expectations and desiring to be is the first step to giving the Lord the increase good soil is sure to produce.

God takes responsibility for his kingdom. And we have the great opportunity to join Him in his kingdom-building. God is the one who prepares, plants, and harvests the increase of the kingdom.

The unlocking of seed so that it grows is a mystery, but being soil is simple as long as we submit to the plow trusting the Lord of the harvest who tends, nurtures, and waits for maturation in the new season. He is patient and we should be too.

         You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus... It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

            Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for:

            If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
            if we endure, we will also reign with him;
            if we deny him, he also will deny us;
            if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
                        for he cannot deny himself.

(2 Timothy 2:1-3; 6-13 ESV)

He remains faithful.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

                                                                                    (John 12:24 ESV)

Prepared soil receives the seed.
The seed, the soil
become one, a holy union,
a mystery watered in hope,
never disappoints,
nourished by Love
never ending.
The harvest begins
with waiting.
God has promised,
and it shall be. The end.

October 10, 2015

Come Before Winter

The wind, a hymn in the pines,
Cool from the north, rushing 
then settling--- 
rhythmic like waves on the shore, 
sifting, sanding,

I sit in fragments, 
light careening from above, broken
living in Shadow and Light,
the gift of a new day.

The sun descending.

The days soon will give way 
to darkness, winter. 
Fall comes for a day or so, 
and retreats, hiding in 
one extreme or the other. 

I sit in the place I was planted,
in the slow hum of a world dulled 
in the dust of drought; 
my companions the listless wasps, 
hanging on the brick wall 
hoping the day will warm. 

Later they’ll be knocking around 
up on the ceiling, 
trying to squeeze out 
the last of life 
before the new season creeps in 
and beds down.

“Come before winter.”

I’ve waited in the shadows
Looked here and there
for revelation
like a child running wild 
hunting for the eggs painted golden,

Granddaddies filled with wanderlust 
mock, remind me to be intentional. Stop
looking under rocks, in hollow logs. 
Decay is the home of
the serpent.

Revelations all around,
I miss them in the
spinning and the sifting, 
the compost of days faded 
in the light of summer. 

Fall sidles in, tasting of smoke,
a fire burning deep on
a crisp October morning.

I want to see---really see, 
to hear---really hear 
before the frost comes and
holds the world hostage in
the season that sleeps.

Sleeping keeps me up at night. 

The sassafras is turning. 
Red, orange, golden. 
She’ll drop her pretense soon. 
Her royal robe will 
fall down around her. She’ll be naked 
when winter comes and
leaves the long shadows. 

Winter demands the ultimate surrender.

Sunrise and sunset, 
again and again, 
over and over 
in darkness and day, 
under clouds, and rainbows and starry hosts. 
Again, the mocking bird lights on her branches, 
then a cardinal as red as blood. 

She holds on like she does every year, 
in season and out, in the rhythm of 
surrender and new life, death 
and resurrection. 

Listening to the song, I nod.
I understand, gather myself
in the golden moment. 
Live in the Son 
and hope…

 He comes before winter.