Growing Together in the Light

A place for Friends and others to explore Quakerism. A place where, in the Light that comes from God, we may all grow and where we may hope to find a unity that underlies our diversity of language.

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Location: Arlington, Massachusetts, United States

Raised a Friend, I am currently a member of Fresh Pond Meeting in Cambridge, Mass. I am also active in Salem Quarterly Meeting and in New England Yearly Meeting.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Bringing in the sheaves

May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
Carrying their sheaves.

Psalm 126:5-6

I attended a wedding at our meeting last week and it was a joyful celebration and at meeting the next morning there were also many messages about joy. This brought to mind the lines above from Psalm 126 and of course the gospel song  that it inspired. There are many links between joy and sorrow and it seems that the two emotions are often experienced in some mixture. I have tears of joy because I remember the times of pain. Likewise, at my times of deepest pain, I often feel closest to God, so there is joy in that as well.

But what came to me today was the realization that it is only when we have been plowed up and broken open inwardly that the soil of our soul is ready to receive the Seed of God. At other times, the soil of our soul may be too hard or rocky or dry to receive the Seed. But when we are broken open, the Seed can fall in deep, and it can continue to grow, even when the soil above it has been beaten down again and may be hard and dry on the surface. As the seed grows, it brings forth it's fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

By remembering the times when we were broken and hurting, we are able to respond compassionately and lovingly to those we encounter who are broken and hurting. By receiving, we are enabled to be generous. By being made tender, we are taught how to be gentle with ourselves and each other.

So as Yamen's and Bernadette's families spoke of how much they felt welcomed by the meeting, and how the meeting felt joy at being welcomed into their celebration, I realized how much the meeting learned about opening itself and surrounding people with love when we accompanied our Friend Bill and his family on the journey from his diagnosis with brain cancer to his death 6 months later. Out of that time of weeping, we have brought forth fruits of community and openness and welcoming and we rejoice bringing in those sheaves.

The world is filled with brokenness and pain. But in all of that brokenness are the places where the world is broken open to receive the Seed of God. In the time of weeping we must also be sowing. We do not know how long the seeds will take to germinate and grow. I remember reading that the ground in the desert in the Southwest United States is filled with seeds. There are something like 10,000 seeds per cubic inch of soil. Because of the dry conditions, these seeds can last for hundreds and thousands of years, each waiting for just the right conditions of rain and temperature for it to germinate. Some require a short but intense rain. Others, moisture over a longer period. The right conditions might only happen once every hundred years, but when they come, the seeds are ready. And when the time comes, we can rejoice in the harvest and the increase, knowing that in that increase is the Kingdom of God; knowing that in the increase the seeds are being made ready for the next sowing.

Blessings to all,

Will T

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