Now is the Time to Plant
by Emily McKinney
March 29, 2020
I’d like to tell you a story. Three weeks ago, before staying home as much as possible became our new normal, Mark and I bought seeds for the garden. We had every intention of paying attention to the last frost date and what prefers to be started indoors and transferred later, what can be started while it’s still cold and what can’t, and planting according to a tidy schedule. And then, amidst all this disruption, we accidentally left most of the seed packets out on the back porch, where they got thoroughly rained on. Saturday graced us with several hours of direct sun to the porch, warming the wet seed envelopes. And suddenly, everything we planned to plant was about to sprout and it was time to plant many different kinds of seeds all at once.
The churning of the dark, pungent dirt churned the thoughts in my mind, and as I worked my way through each damp packet of flowers, herbs, and vegetables, I realized that now, while we are displaced from our normal lives, it is the time to plant seeds – literal and spiritual, physical and metaphorical.
As I planted the zinnias so generously given at Tom Kinsey’s memorial service, I thought that planting seeds is an act of faith and defiance for these uncertain times. Faith in the future and defiance of the despair and hopelessness nibbling at the edges of our days. I planted those seeds believing I would be there to water them in the coming weeks. I planted, envisioning a time when I could once again bring fresh cut flowers from my yard to my local library, or deliver them in person to a friend.
I planted tomatoes, believing I will be around to make them into sauces to share with our neighbors, and that there will come a day when neighbors do not withdraw at the thought of accepting homemade food from one another.
My beloved community, now is the time to plant the seeds. What will we have grown, individually and collectively, when the harvest of the coming months is gathered in? When we, at last, are all gathered in under one roof together?
There are many gifts we will be able to offer one another in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Already, we are learning how to use new tools, new ways of caring for one another, and making space for new ideas for how to care for our world and community.
Just as I planted various things in our garden, we each have many types of seeds to plant. It is a time for all of them: seeds of hope, seeds of new skills, talents, and knowledge, seeds of kindness, connection, and solidarity, seeds of new ideas about what work is “essential” to society, new ideas of how to support our most vulnerable, and what it might mean to have a more just and equitable society.
We are also holding seeds of grief and loss – from so many changes and losses from our normal lives, griefs both great and small – griefs and losses meant to be grieved together in community. It is time to plant those, too, trusting in a future in which we will come together to grieve in community.
What seeds do you have? What will you grow and bring with you when at last we are together again? Dear friends, now is the time to plant the seeds.