A second parable I’ve been thinking about today:
The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come. (Mk 4:26-29)
When I woke up this morning, I didn’t know whether to envy or pity my colleagues at Bethel and other colleges. On the one hand, I wish I would have had a scheduled with defined tasks to accomplish, instead of the unstructured time of sabbatical, On the other hand, I don’t know what I would say to students after last night’s vote, or what good I would accomplish.
But honestly, most of my days as a teacher are like that. It’s a profession that demands patience and faith, as the seed we scatter sprouts and, days or weeks or months or years later, grows, we know not how.
Fortunately, that’s a realization I came to fairly quickly in my teaching career. I concluded my application for initial tenure by reflecting on this parable, with an assist from two much wiser men. Here’s what I wrote, almost ten years ago now:
My friend Glen Wiberg, a retired Covenant pastor and writer, borrows an image from E.B. White to explain how God plants “seeds of hope” among his people. The autumn before his wife Katharine died, White watched her planting flower bulbs, “oblivious to the ending of her own days… calmly plotting the resurrection.” Glen takes it from there:
What a provocative phrase: “plotting the resurrection”! Katharine was a member of the resurrection conspiracy, the company of those who plant seeds of hope, seeds of tomorrow under dark skies of uncertainty and impending death; people going about their living and dying until, no one knows how, when, or where, the tender shoots of life appear, and a small piece of creation is healed. That’s who we are as God’s Easter people—those oblivious to the ending of our own days, calmly plotting the resurrection.
So whether or not you’re a professor or teacher, may you go about your living and dying this day and all those to come in the next four years, scattering the seeds of the kingdom of God under uncertain skies and calmly plotting the resurrection.