I’ve been planting a lot of seeds in my garden this past week. Some of them, like squash, are large and tan, easy to place and cover with the dark, rich soil I’ve imported to supplement our desert clay and sand. Others, like basil and oregano, are tiny and dark, disappearing from my sight the moment they hit the earth.
None of these seeds are “fresh.” The last time I had a vegetable garden was two years ago, and many of these seeds were purchased or harvested in 2010 and 2011. Yet I have confidence that they will grow—in part because of the success I had with the tomato seeds, which started on our guest room windowsill two months ago. Out of the dozen varieties I planted, only one type of seed did not sprout.
This leads me to have confidence in what I’ve read about seeds—they will wait years for the right conditions before taking the leap of faith and sprouting. Seed companies might urge us to purchase fresh seeds every year, but for the most part there is no need; as long as my vegetable and herb seeds are kept in dark, cool, dry conditions, they seem to survive just fine, even after a number of years of waiting.
It also turns out that some seeds have developed some amazingly different germination triggers over the millennia. There are plants that will grow best only if they get first crack at an environment that has been devastated by fire, and these seeds actually sprout in response to high heat and fire-bright light, or the chemicals in charred wood and smoke!
All this has me thinking about the God-planted seeds within my soul, some of which have taken many years to germinate. Sometimes this is due to my fears; other times it has to do with whether I am able to give sufficient time and energy to that deep desire that occasionally nudges me.
For example, I first learned to take and develop photographs as a teenager, but let it go over the years as other pursuits claimed higher priority in my life. At that time I never would have imagined that photography would eventually form an integral part of my spiritual life, and now my spiritual ministry. Yet when I was ready, that seed planted deep within me began to sprout, and now my images have graced not just our hallway walls, but spiritual CD covers, online meditations and classes, and the slide shows at last month’s Spiritual Directors International’s conference in Santa Fe. I even have a book underway which pairs my photographic images with meditations on prayer.
I invite you to ponder those seeds that have sprouted in your own lives. How did it happen? Did those seeds require the gentle nurturing of sun and moisture, or the seeming devastation of fire and smoke?
What seeds might now be awaiting germination within you? How might you encourage them to sprout?