“He also said, ‘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.’ –Mark 4:26-29
For Christmas I got one of those vases in which you can watch a bulb put out roots and grow. It’s a hyacinth I think. It is in full bloom now, and laden with rich purple, very smelly flowers.
Though I watched the process from the beginning, that plant’s development is a mystery. Even having studied botany back in college and knowing exactly how a seed morphs into a full grown plant, I am still mystified. For though we can mess with genetics, soil quality and amounts of sun and water, when it comes to the actual process of seed growth we humans are relegated to the role of watching and waiting.
The same is true for the growth of the understanding that is the fruit of the Kingdom of Heaven. Through some mysterious process we come to see, to really know, that we are all one in God. When that has happened our dualism, our either-or thinking, shrivels like the husk of a seed that has grown into something beyond itself. This happens through a metamorphosis of consciousness and is not something we can think our way into. We can provide the right soil – teachings that point the way – and the right amount of water and sun – prayer and reflection – but then we are forced to wait and watch until the new thing sprouts and puts out a stalk, buds, and finally produces full grain.
When the process has come to a certain point, harvest time arrives. In my experience that is usually a little sooner than we realize, a little before the change in understanding is really firm in us. But when it happens, it’s time for us to go to work. At that point we will need to take our sickles into the field and collect all within us that has come to fruition. And after that the big, smelly flowers of our hearts will want to perfume our world with acts of healing, comfort, and nourishment. The unique response that each one of us makes will fit with who we are and what our skills and talents lead us to.
In this way the Kingdom of Heaven spreads, heart by heart, dawning awareness by dawning awareness. The more we have, the more that will be given to us, until the whole world is in bloom.