The question Jesus asks today: To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God? (MK 4:26-34) which he answers with the mustard seed growing into the “largest of plants” is very familiar. He has already spoken at the beginning of the passage about the growth of grain, observable in very clear stages. I always substitute corn for grain because I see it everywhere around me in the early summer and am always amazed at the process. There are lots of ways to speak of growth but the most important thing about the process, I think, is imperceptibility; we don’t know how it happens – it just does if we have done the groundwork. Jesus says that it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of it’s own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
So the question arises: Does the reign of God grow in us the same way? Surely we have to do the “groundwork” of spiritual practice and consciousness of how we are living. Lately though I have begun to notice some changes in myself for which I can’t take credit or blame. I won’t go into the wrinkles that a friend kindly calls “the windstorms of our lives” but I have been surprised in my work by a new sense of confidence and a less judgmental stance than ever before. Once in awhile now I recognize that things which seemed so important when I was younger hold no sway now. Sometimes, it’s other people who tell me I’ve changed and upon reflection I can understand their reasoning.
The moral of this story seems to be once again a delicate balance of consciousness and surrender, an attentiveness to doing the groundwork of planting God’s intention for us deep within while letting go of the need to control the outcome. God is, after all, the master gardener.