It Starts with a Seed

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J_BethanyS_750It started with a seed. A question: what if we moved?

It fell on hard ground the first time my husband asked it. It was winter, I was grieving the death of my mother. I felt frozen, numb, empty, barren. I couldn’t look around at my life and see anything for what it really was. I couldn’t know for sure whether the bare branches were hibernating or lifeless. So we waited, the possibility of what could be suspended somewhere in time.

Still, it was a small seed of hope, a tiny kernel of faith, that question.

Perhaps it’s the farm girl in me that always speaks in agrarian metaphors. I grew up in southwest Michigan on a corner of my grandfather’s land, surrounded by alfalfa fields and golden cornstalks. I was raised with the seasons, spring, summer, fall, winter—bud, bloom, flourish, rest, begin again. It taught me what it means to lay the seed in the soil and wait.

Except I’m not really that patient. Perhaps that’s why I couldn’t stay there forever. I wandered far from home, searching for my own way to live. I planted myself near The Big City, Chicago. I blossomed and flourished, I grew into myself. I went to college, I met a man and married him, I found a job.

And then came the shedding, a long season of grief and goodbye as my mother died. I lost so many things along with her death, past and future together, the girl I was, the woman I wanted to be.

Life felt like hard soil. Life felt like death.

But in time, my heart thawed. I woke up to myself. That question, that small seed of hope, sank deeper into the soil: where could we go from here?

And then a few small shoots sprang from its shell:

What did I want to do with my calling as a writer?

What did my husband want to do with his calling as a musician?

Were we the farmers planting our seeds in the soil, or were we the man who buried his talents in the sand?

Were we honoring God with our gifts?

Were we living into them?

Where could we go from here? Anywhere.

We chose Nashville. On Monday we’ll load up the U-Haul and head south. It has taken us several months of planning and hoping, of tending this small seed of ours, to make it grow into something real. And still, it’s chaos, like nature, like life. My apartment is a mess. Everything is everywhere and nowhere to be found at the same time. So many things have gone wrong, and also miraculously right at the same time.

You take the seed in the palm of your hand.

You place it in the open ground.

You gather the soil over it.

You wait.

You honor the seasons, the shedding and the flourishing; each are a necessary part of the process of wholeness.

You pay attention for that almost imperceptible moment when the earth will thaw and the tiniest buds will appear on bare branches.

And you watch as the light and color dawn. You learn to revel in it. You learn to thrive.

You learn to begin again.

It starts with a seed.

________________

Image credit: William Warby

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Bethany Suckrow
I’m a writer and blogger at at bethanysuckrow.com, where I shares both prose and poetry on faith, grace, grief and hope. I am currently working on my first book, a memoir about losing my mother to cancer. My musician-husband, Matt, and I live in transition as we move our life from the Chicago suburbs to Nashville.
Bethany Suckrow
Bethany Suckrow

Latest posts by Bethany Suckrow (see all)

Bethany Suckrow
  • Oh Bethany! May that seed be one that has life waiting to burst forth. May it be a seed that lasts and endures and thrives. May it be a seed that is in it for the long haul. So much love!

  • Saskia Wishart

    This is such a timely piece for me to read – dry hard soil giving way toward a small seed of hope… Love the metaphor! And excited to be doing Thursday’s with you!

    • Saskia, so excited to be doing Thursday’s with you too! Thanks for reading my first post. Glad it resonated! 🙂

  • Bev Murrill

    So it does! Thank God that you understand that. Your life can go on because of it. Even the loss of your beautiful mum… a grain of wheat falling to the ground… to produce much fruit. You’ll be amazed what the years will bring because of the influence of your lovely mum on your life. You can’t see it yet… but that’s because you’ve gathered the soil over it and now you’re in the wait.

    Wait. You’ll see. Nothing is lost. The Divine Recycler is at work in you… and through you.

    I love love love what you’ve written.

    • “The Divine Recycler” – oh, how I love that image of our Creator God. It has been such a healing concept for me to know that none of our experiences ever go to waste in God’s Kingdom, He’s always using them to deepen and enrich our lives. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement, Bev! I’m soaking them up. 🙂

  • sandyhay

    “You learn to thrive. You learn to begin again.” I didn’t think that by the time I “retired” (really hate this word) that I would want to begin again, to thrive. This snuck up on me. Such a beautiful thing to plant and wait ..at whatever age we are.

    • You know, I really understand that, Sandy. I really didn’t think when my mother was dying that I would want to begin again, either. I know those are very different life experiences, but both are an ending that feels so final. It’s so profound that we can still be resurrected and renewed from those things. Thanks for commenting!

  • Sarah Joslyn

    Glorious. This is glorious. Feel free to tell me all your stories in agrarian metaphors, love. xoxo

    • Haha, you know I will! 🙂 Thanks so much for your love and support (and for making my post look lovely. You’re such a rockstar.) xoxo

  • cjdeboer

    Wonderful, Bethany! The process IS always the same. Where I go wrong is in expecting the crop before I’ve tended to the seed. Thanks for the reminder – it applies to pretty much everything in my life right now 🙂

    • “Where I go wrong is in expecting the crop before I’ve tended the seed.” < THIS. You speak my language, friend. I know exactly what you mean. I think especially as a writer, we want to have the words and the understanding and the skills to tell the story before we're really ready. It takes time and faithfulness to get there, right? Anyway, thanks so much for reading and commenting! <3

  • pastordt

    So many blessings as you pick up stakes and move south, Bethany. I think you’ll love Nashville. Some of our best friends live in a Nashville suburb and they love it. And of course, Leigh is there. 🙂 Thanks for these thoughtful words and beautiful imagery!

    • Yes! So excited to connect with the community there, including Leigh. 🙂 Thanks so much, Diana!

  • I drank all of this up Bethany, and I’m so glad you’re here! What beautiful words, from a heart that has learned (and is learning) to thrive in the hard soil. I’m right there with you in the mess, in the dirt.

    • That is such a beautiful image that hadn’t occurred to me as I wrote this – being with each other in the mess & the dirt. But it’s so true, and I’m so thankful for this sisterhood at SheLoves who get it and who know how to dig down into it together. <3

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  • Carolynne Melnyk

    Bethany, I love your analogy of a seed. I use it a lot too. Maybe, as you say, it comes from an agrarian background. May your seed germinate and grow and flourish. Blessings

  • Jules

    Beautiful thoughts that resonate! And WELCOME to Nashville! Such a great city! 😀

  • Holly

    “And then came the shedding, a long season of grief and goodbye as my mother died. I lost so many things along with her death, past and future together, the girl I was, the woman I wanted to be.
    Life felt like hard soil. Life felt like death.
    But in time, my heart thawed. I woke up to myself.”

    You’ve put into words something I haven’t been able to articulate since my mother died almost two months ago, now… shedding. That is exactly it. I’ve lost the skin that I grew up in, the one in which I lived and moved and had my being. The one my mom wrapped me in with her love. It has been shed and I have felt lost and bereft and naked and it makes daily life very, very hard.
    But you are also right about the thawing. I can feel it at the edges of my self. A tingling for life anew. For a throbbing pulse of new.
    I, too, am slowly waking up.

    Thank you for this.
    Thank you.

    • Bereft and naked – perfect words for that feeling of walking in the world without our mothers. But I’m so thankful to know you and have someone to walk with on this path of grief, friend. Much love to you. <3

      • You girls both have me in tears now … Walking this earth without our mothers. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of this nakedness, because it’s something I don’t want to imagine yet.

  • Bethany, this is so so beautiful. Poetic and wise. I’ve learned more of your story and heard some of your pain. I am so excited that you will be standing here with us, planting your words and your heart. I pray for the future you hope for …

    • Thank you so much, Idelette. Participating in a community like SheLoves – writing, editing, and encouraging others as they tell their stories – is part of that that thawing and thriving process for me. So thankful for this opportunity. Much love! Can’t wait to connect with you soon. 🙂

  • Erin Wilson

    Nashville seems like good soil for both your gifts. I hope (and pray) you find just exactly what you need in the collective creative energy there.

    Peace 🙂

  • Laura

    I’m in a season also, of planting, nurturing and paying attention to what’s growing and where. My “one” word this year is “choose life”. It sounds like that’s what you’re doing – choosing life – even in the midst of grieving your mom’s death.

    • It’s funny you mention your one word, Laura, because this post was inspired by my own one-word: Thrive. And you’re right, it is about choosing life. I chose that word because I needed to give myself permission to “begin again” after saying goodbye to mom. Whatever your reasons for “choosing life,” I hope you find it in abundance this year. Thanks for commenting! <3

  • Kim Waggoner

    After a few hard years of miscarriages and church ministry, we too are packing up and heading to Nashville this month. For us, the seed was when Someone whispered this to me: Go where your heart is. Thank you for this beautiful piece. I can feel the spring in my bones.

    • It’s always so amazing to connect with people who so specifically understand what you’re going through, isn’t it? Once both of us get settled, if you ever want to connect in person, I’d love to meet up! 🙂

      • Kim Waggoner

        I would love that, Bethany! Good luck with your move.

  • Debbie Hart

    You have your mother’s strength & resilance! I KNOW she’s so proud of you!

    • Thanks so much for your constant encouragement, Debbie. Whenever you comment it’s always that reminder that I need, that I’m honoring her and she’s proud of me. I know she is grateful that you’re always reaching out. Much love, friend!

  • Megan Gahan

    Such a beautiful offering for your first SheLoves post my dear. I’m so looking forward to getting to know you more through your writing . . . Welcome welcome! We are thrilled to have you 🙂

  • Good luck on your new season! Been there, more than once, facing a new season in life. My husband and I just did that 3 years ago when we planted a church. It’s been one of the hardest, fulfilling, nerve wracking, sometimes discouraging, many times uplifting things we’ve ever done. As you begin this new journey, it won’t come without hardships but knowing in your heart that this was a decision you were both meant/destined to do will be something to intentionally remind yourself of if any difficulties try to get in the way.

  • Mark Allman

    I grew up on a farm with milk cattle and tobacco. I learned to love the soil and to hate it. 🙂 The work was hard but the lessons were good. From the seed of death springs life and it must be nourished.
    Nourish those talents and Relish the Journey!

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