“Jesus told them many things in parables, saying: ‘a farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up…Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.’” Matthew 13
Feed what you want to grow. Figuring out what we wanted to pack up and move from our beloved home and community in York, Maine to somewhere out west felt more than daunting. I stood in the living room of the historic colonial parsonage we had called home for six years, thinking. Like most pastors, we had moved a number of times as new communities welcomed us, and in due season, then sent us forward. This time felt different. Like the pioneers of two hundred years ago, we had to fit the contents of a six-bedroom home into the modern equivalent of a covered wagon.
I’m married to a practical man, and a person of faith. “Sell everything,” he said. “It will be cheaper to just buy what we need on the other end.” He may have been right of course, yet possessions are funny. A chair is just a chair to some. For me, a chair tells the story of every person who has sat there, laughing and enjoying meals with friends, year in and year out for more than thirty years. A cup is just a cup, until I turn it over and see in my mother’s handwriting that it belonged to my Great Grandma Lou who was given it as a wedding present in 1850.
Before you reach for the phone to ask whether I ditched the chair and saved the cup, I have to tell you that there seemed to be a thousand such items, each telling stories as rich as any library. And yet I’ve been in this work long enough to know that in the not-too-distant future, none of these things will matter much to those who follow. And everyone’s coffin or urn is the same size. I may be able to take it with me now, but none of us can take any of it with us then. This thought is sobering, yet also freeing somehow.
When we reflect on the seeds God plants in our lives, both the ones we’ve chosen to water and the gardens that have grown, it’s helpful to visualize the end game. I don’t want to be remembered for having kept a beautifully appointed home, nor do I want to spend the last chapters of my life dusting and taking care of chairs where large groups of people will no longer sit.
None of us know what the future will bring, but I do know this. I want to feed relationships, and faith, and compassion, and generosity, and gratitude, and laughter and joy. I want to be free and unencumbered enough of possessions to feed what God wants me to grow. Standing in the living room overwhelmed by the task at hand early that morning, I finally heard God speak through my husband.
“Come with me into the future. The only thing I need to take with me is you.”
Prayer: God of all good things: In these perilous times, remind us to hold fast to essential things, and let the rest go. Feed in us, what you want to grow, that we may be faithful to you in all things. Amen
God’s grace, mercy and peace,
Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland