I've been enjoying the practice of attending Morning Prayer at St. John's during the week, particularly on those days when I am not leading. Don't get me wrong: it's not that I don't want to lead, or am afraid to lead the service. It's just nice to receive sometimes rather than to give, and to experience someone else's leadership.
The past couple of days have been particularly so, and I think it has to do with the readings out of Mark's gospel.
We're progressing along with Jesus on his journey and his early parables shared with the disciples and the crowd about sowers, seeds, and what springs up from what kind of soil. I've looked at these passages in other entries here on the blog. But yesterday, and today, I found myself hearing the words in yet another way. That not only does our desire for the "good life" and seeking after fame and fortune result in the thorns choking the sprouting seed and blocking the light from getting to it, but listening to and believing in your own bullshit, to put it bluntly, is another kind of thorny plant that will obscure the light. That's a temptation that I find those of us who have been a "public figure" have had to face. People are constantly stroking your ego, and trying to put you just a little bit higher up on the pedestal... kind of like a Tower of Babel... ascending higher and higher until you think you don't really need God because everybody thinks you're so marvelous. Been there. Done that. Don't want to make that mistake again.
I've also made the mistake of believing the other noise that comes from people, the noise that says, "You have no place here. You are unworthy and unwanted." My belief in that nonsense gave the necessary water to keep those thorny branches alive and killing my seed. Been there. Done that. Don't want to make that mistake again, either.
And so, just sitting and listening in the chapel, I hear again the parable that kingdom of God is like a mustard seed..."which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’" And these words sound like a truism. Note that here, Jesus is not qualifying what type of ground this seed is sown upon (he's had lots to say about soil before this!) But to me, what I hear in this, is that whatever the ground is, if this is God's will being done, then this tiny seed will grow into the greatest of all shrubs. And the possibility is always there for the thorns and weeds to be whacked back, and the soil to be tilled and made fertile. And that's the kind of hope that makes me say, "Thanks be to God!"