The Sower is out here sowing seeds. Tossing them willy-nilly onto all kinds of surfaces. What happens next?
Well, says Jesus, it all depends… How’s the soil?
Is there little of it? Such that the seed is easily exposed and taken away by a strong breeze or a hungry bird?
Is the soil shallow? So that there’s no room to go downward? Therefore, the seed might sprout up immediately, perhaps shining for a short time, but lacking the resources to go the distance?
Is the soil black, ripe, and humid? In other words, is it fertile? Is there space and time for the seed to plunge roots into the darkness, sucking up the smelly rot, transforming what was waste into something useful?
In my corner of the world - northern California of the United States, it feels like we’re in a seed storm. The Sower is tossing out seeds from every angle, and into every heart, whether prepared soil, vacant lot or, more likely - some of both.
The seeds are flying on social media, with every hashtag and viral video. They’re posted in signs on our front lawns, they’re shouting into news cameras, they’re marching in the streets, they’re begging for oxygen to breathe. They are the seeds of racial justice.
These seeds demand we acknowledge the fact that the United States as we know it was constructed on the land of the Indigenous and the backs of people of color - and that these communities have been blocked from participating in the harvest of this society. These seeds spotlight the role of Christianity in this reign of Whiteness, which has been constructed and rewarded as a superior way of life to all others. These seeds seek repair of the broken systems, institutions, and relationships left in the wake of White dominance.
These seeds land on the ground, scattered by a Sower not inclined to hold back, but also aware that only some will hear, understand, and bear fruit. Yes - it’s a flurry of seeds, action, tweets, and marches now - but only some seeds will land on fertile ground - ground prepared to sustain healing for the long haul.
Now - imagine - you’re the soil. You’re the soil. I’m the soil.
Let us allow the Holy One to do what today’s psalmist promises - break up our clods, shower the valleys, uproot that which chokes out life, and prepare the soil such that the seeds might yield a fruitful - and long lasting - harvest.
To put it plainly, a year from now, after you’ve changed your social media profile picture back to your families and pets, after your book club finished reading White Fragility, after you’ve marched until there are holes in your shoes, you’ve called your state attorney general asking for changes to the way states investigate and prosecute police officers who kill citizens… will that seed still have nourishment to flourish?
Now I’m going to speak to my United States White sisters and brothers - because you folks of color certainly don’t need another White lady telling you what to do.
White sisters and brothers, let us commit now to continuing to allow God to nourish that soil - nourish us - one year from now, five years from now, fifty years from now -
Let’s commit to listening to our sisters and brothers of color, to seeing with their eyes, and - most importantly - to stepping aside, trading our comfort for a cloak of justice, enacting meaningful and wide-reaching financial reparations to level the playing field, insisting we learn the unvarnished truth about terrorism inflicted upon people of color by people who look like us. We’ve got to repent - as a people - for what we have done and build up our tolerance for the fight. We will get knocked down with grief, embarrassment, and shame at what has happened. And we must get back up - because if history has taught us anything, it is that the journey to racial healing will last for generations, with each lurch forward costing us untold numbers of Black Lives.
The weeds and thorns of racial superiority have set excruciatingly deep roots in the institutions of the United States of America as well as in the hearts of Americans. Any skilled gardener will tell you, uprooting entrenched weeds takes persistence and focus.
God assures us through the mouth of Isaiah: My work is not wasted. I send out my word, says God, and it will not return to me until it has accomplished its word. God’s Word - these seeds thirsting for justice - will find fertile soil. God is our ultimate model of the skilled gardener - persistent and focused. Let her be our guide.
The psalmist imagines a fruitful harvest where the fields are lush with blossoms and the valleys blanketed with grain. The harvest is abundant and available to all.
We are not there yet. We may yet be far from this verdant vision.
But if we pause and stop, we can feel it coming. The stirring of the earth, the yearning of our hearts, brave roots reaching down into the dark muck, searching for nourishment there in the dark, moist, hidden nooks of earth. We witness the cautious breakthrough of a tendril, poking above the ground. Will it bear fruit that lasts? Depends on the soil.
Molleen is a teacher, writer, and minister living in the beautiful Bay Area of northern California. She earned a Master of Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University in 2003, along with a Certificate in Spiritual Direction in 2004. She teaches Christian Morality, Ethics & Media, Spiritual Ecology, and other courses in Religious Studies at Bishop O’Dowd High School. You can find her latest podcast project, On a Mission, on iTunes. She speaks and writes on the topic of getting real and going deep with God and is an experienced retreat facilitator and spiritual director. She is married and has one daughter. Her online home is molleendupreedominguez.com
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