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I tell you most solemnly, unless a wheat of grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it yields, it grows into a rich harvest.

This text from the gospel of John 24:12 has always startled my psyche from humdrum glitches and quickened my full awareness into the present moment. It carries an urgency I dare not heed.

In the time of Jesus of Nazareth, reputed to have spoken these words to converted Greeks who sought after him, the image of sowing fields was commonplace and often used as a metaphor. The death of the outer sheath of the wheat grain initiated the plant for further growth of roots, leaves, stem, head, and awn. Failure to actualize this process produced withered isolates and final death.

Even in our beginnings, there’s death: the sloughing off the placenta at birth, but it does not stop there. Awareness of sin or character defects warrant our full willingness to change as we experience life—To become our authentic selves before our allotted time ends.

Even more so, living with a terminal illness, the challenge looms. It seems as if Creator God implanted death within all of life: an irritant meant to actualize our potential so as to share with others.

Such enrichment surrounds us if we are willing.

Yes, as the rain and the snow come from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the Word that goes from my mouth does not return empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in which it was sent to do.

So proclaims Isaiah 55:10

Around 4 A.M., I awoke with this lovely dream:

An April morning, cloud wisps sweep the sun, breezes gentle my white hair, in need of another trim. I’ve just finished planting marigolds across the front of the high-rise where I live, pulled off my muddy gloves, and stepped back to appreciate my work. A neighbor approached me, her arms carrying a wicker basket filled with daffodils. She told me of the flourishing garden, nearby, that volunteers had converted from a neglected corner lot. Anyone was welcome to help themselves.

That it is April in my psyche heartens me, given January’s lingering grays and the dregs of winter still to drink. Morning suggests opportunities for fresh beginnings with tangles of roots to unravel for new sprouting.

The high-rise suggests apartness from others; some days, even isolation, given my present circumstances, as I live alone; its city location and its busyness, understood from the context of the dream.

The planting marigolds speaks of meaningful activities that have engaged me during my prolonged illness. Before the changes in my health, such riotous colors had brightened the bungalow where I still live.

But most interesting is the neighbor, unknown from reality. Her inextinguishable greening stirred my grief for omni-present trashed environs; attracted volunteers to dig up the blighted lot, nearby, and pull apart its overgrowth; tended seeds pregnant with life until thriving with fresh colors; then freely offered this produce to passersby. This neighbor speaks of Mother Earth and her desire that we love her—Perhaps plant a vegetable garden or put out bird feeders. Experience her helpfulness. See how we can change.

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