I came home last night from work with a great treasure, old-fashioned sweet pea seeds! Now, that's a rather strange thing for a neurobiologist to bring home from a day at work, but it wasn't a regular work day. I was at a research retreat listening to talks from 8 to 5. While this may sound dusty and boring, it wasn't. The students from my department gave talks all day long about their research and, by in large, they did an excellent job! The setting was pretty wonderful too, The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. Sweet peas were one of my grandmother's favorites and I, the child who loved to dig in the dirt, planted them for years for my own mother. I am excited to take these special seeds for old-fashioned varieties and get them in the dirt so I can enjoy the flowers later!
These seed packages took on a whole new meaning this morning though as I read Ted's May 30th post. One brief statement about scripture, "it's to penetrate into our lives and change us from the inside out" brought a quick visual of my beloved seeds, sitting in little envelopes on my coffee table; they are full of potential but going nowhere because they have not been planted and allowed to "die" in the soil. I wondered briefly how this paralleled what was happening in my life right now.
A strange comparison you think? No, it seemed to me that somehow it was just right as my life contains areas with great potential for wonder and beauty, grant applications that contain incredibly good and exciting data with potential for really helping suffering people, my daughter looking for a new job closer home so that she can actually have a life instead of spending a couple of hours on the road each day commuting, her boyfriend willingly looking for a job here rather than remaining in Virginia just so they can be together and get to know one another better. All these things seem just like my seed envelopes, full of potential for great beauty and delight. And yet, like my seeds sitting on the coffee table, they seem to be producing nothing beautiful at all. Grants, really good grants that my position depends on, aren't funded - because somehow the reviewers didn't get the supplemental data I sent; young adults who are great teachers applying for jobs in a town that needs good teachers and has open positions for them - but each time they are shut out without even an interview; my poor health that seems like it will never be "fixed" so there are days full of exhaustion and low productivity when maximum efficient output is needed. None of it makes sense as from the hands of a loving God.
And yet I wonder, is it just that I need to let these things go, let them fall from my fingers as seeds dropped into the darkeness of the soil to die. Am I instead holding on to them with a tight fist that refuses to let them fall to the ground to die? If so, am I missing the great joy of seeing them die only to live again in a more beautiful and fragrant form? So, I guess the question really is, as Ted has already put it, whether I allow the Word to become flesh in me, dying to myself that I might truly live?