For fifty days after Easter it is granted to us to live in the paschal joy, to experience time as the feast.And then comes the "last and great" day of Pentecost and with it our return into the real time of this world.At Vespers of the day the Christians are ordered – for the first time since Easter – to kneel.The night is approaching, the night of time and history, of the daily effort, of the fatigue and temptations, of the whole inescapable burden of life.
-Alexander SchmemannFor the Life of the World:Sacraments and Orthodoxy, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Pressquoted in LTP Easter
We have more than one reason to fall to our knees. Sunday’s lessons confront us with the most ordinary thing - seeds.Praying through these lessons, I find it impossible not to reflect upon this question: how is it that in a brief wisp of time, human beings reversed nature’s progression of bio-diversity necessary for life on earth? Let us awake one another to crisis we’ve caused for food, sustainability, and life on earth itself, and let us fall upon our knees not only in shock and repentence, but to beg for strength for the tasks ahead.
The first meditation draws the reader to an appreciation of the evolutionary development of seeds and their reproduction with a quote from Loren Eisley’s famous essay How Flowers Changed the World.The second meditation expresses the wonder of seed in the human hand.The third meditation references Vandana Shiva’s activism around seed preservation. -Suzanne
the journey of seeds
By contrast, the true flowering plants (angiosperm itself means “encased seed”) grew a seed in the heart of a flower, a seed whose development was initiated by a fertilizing pollen grain independent of outside moisture.But the seed, unlike the developing spore, is already a fully equipped embryonic plant packed in a little enclosed box stuffed full of nutritious food.Moreover, by featherdown attachments, as in dandelion or milkweed seed, it can be wafted upward on gusts and ride the wind for miles; or with hooks it can cling to a bear’s or a rabbit’s hide; or like some of the berries, it can be covered with a juicy, attractive fruit to lure birds, pass undigested through their intestinal tracts and be voided miles away.
The ramifications of this biological invention were endless.Plants traveled as they had never traveled before.They got into strange environments heretofore never entered by the old spore plants or still pine-cone-seed plants.The well-fed, carefully cherished little embryos raised their heads everywhere.Many of the older plants with more primitive reproductive mechanisms began to fade away under this unequal contest.They contracted their range into secluded environments.Some, like the giant redwoods, lingered on as relics; many vanished entirely.
–Loren Eisley, The Immense Journey
(both Eisley quotes from “How Flowers Changed the World”)
Tacuinum Sanitatis, Wheat, 14th century
Collect for Proper Six
Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Unknown Master Protestant Reformation Era Writings, 1516
Meditation Two the handling of seeds
Sowing the seed, my hand is one with the earth.Wanting the seed to grow, my mind is one with the light.Hoeing the crop, my hands are one with the rain.Having cared for the plants, my mind is one with the air.Hungry and trusting, my mind is one with the earth. Eating the fruit, my body is one with the earth.
-Wendell Berry, Prayers and Sayings of the Mad Farmer, Collected Poems 1957-1982
The great Ice Age herds were destined to vanish.When they did so, another hand like the hand that grasped the stone by the river long ago would pluck a handful of grass seed and hold it contemplatively.In that moment, the golden towers of man, his swarming millions, his turning wheels, the vast learning of his packed libraries, would glimmer dimly there in the ancestor of wheat, a few seeds held in a muddy hand.
-Loren Eisley, The Immense Journey
Meditation Three the saving of seeds
Well I started to save seeds twenty years ago when I first realized that corporations wanted to own and control seed and they wanted to create property in seed and they wanted to turn it into their intellectual property. …
… For me the imperative to save seeds came from really an ethical urge to defend life’s evolution, life’s diversity, and the freedom of life to reproduce, to multiply, to be able to be distributed. Because I could see that this would create a new kind of scarcity and it has. …
Today for us the work on seed has become the place from where we are responding to the worst tragedies and worst crises of our times.If we really seriously look at the crises we are facing whether it is climate change or unemployment or it’s the crises of food where you can’t be secure in your food at all, the solution to so much of this comes from people being on the land as conservers of the seed, of the soil, of the water.–Vandana Shiva