by Milton Redman
We all have ideas and beliefs we live by. Some were taught to us and others we picked up along the way. Some we have no clue as to where they came from and yet we still accept them as a part of us. And still others seem to come from out of the blue, as if a gift from the heavens. This little story is about one of those. A belief I hold dear that had to have been shipped from some other place and planted in my heart. It was taught to me in the central plains on an early fall day.
It was then that a little question
seemed to pop into my head out of nowhere. It was not something I would have
normally thought up myself either. The question went like this:
"If those crops in the field had a spiritual belief, what would it be?"
Now thatís an odd question. Still, I had nothing better to do with my time so I decided to play along. I was again passing some corn and as I looked it over I figured that Corn has got to be Christian. Standing in nice neat rows just waiting to march into those pearly gates. Yep, I was sure I nailed that one. That there was some mighty Christian corn.
Next came the Barley looking grain and I pegged it as Muslim. You see, I know very little about Islam and even less about Barley so the two just seemed to go together. Muslim Barley it was.
As I waited for the next veggie to appear I went ahead and decided that Tomatoes were Pagan. As much as I love the taste of vine ripened tomatoes they just had to be a sin of some sort. Now Iím not equating paganism with sin here. It just seemed to fit in my shallow little brain at the time. Pagan tomatoes it was.
Then those cabbage things showed up again in the next field I passed and I had to think a second on that one. Well, they sit close to the ground and are roundish and plump. Kind Ďa like Buddha. Thatís it. The cabbages were meditating Buddhist Cabbage.
I was really getting the hang of this. After naming a few others I came across a wheat field with a scarecrow still up. Thatís Catholic wheat for sure with the Pope giving his blessings from the Vatican portico. This was actually a fun little diversion.
Still, It finally got old and I decided to put a tape in the deck and get lost in some music. As I fumbled around looking for the right tape another strange little questioned popped into my head...to this day I have no idea where it came from. This time it went like this:
"And what is the Sunshine and the Rain?"
I was still looking for the right tape and answered without even thinking about it. "The sunshine and the rain is the love of God that makes them all grow." Settling on the Pink Floyd I turned to put it in and at that very instance my mind balked. Froze before I could get the tape even close. The answer I had just given was impossible.
I mean, The Christian Corn knew and taught that only it was on Gods good side. That meant it should be getting ALL the sunlight and all the rain. The Muslim Barley believed the same thing. So did the Catholic wheat and all those other damn vegetables...But that was not what was happening. The sunshine and the rain fell upon each and everyone one of them the same, as if it didnít give a tinkers damn what they believed. The sunshine and the rain was giving to each and everyone of the vegetables just what they needed to grow strong and tall in both spirit and in life.
No, no, no, no, no!! It is not my place in this world to turn over ten thousand years of religious dogma by assigning beliefs to vegetables. Iím a simple man with a simple life and thinking like this was way, way over my head. I decided to just send the thought on its happy way and Iíll keep on driving mine.
It wouldnít go away. I sat there in the driverís seat, about halfway confused and the other half dazed. And the thought sat right there beside me. I have no idea where the original questions came from but I was sure that whoever asked them was laughing at me. Bastard.
Finally I decided to accept it. The love of God is the sunshine and the rain that makes all of gods creations grow strong and tall. Regardless of what field they are born in or what roots they grow from.
With that done I gave thanks to the heavens for the insight, even though I had my doubts about how it would affect me, and promised to hold it dear. I also said thank you for the little lesson and now that it was over Iíd just be getting on down the highway.
Finally letting it go I realized Iíd been driving on autopilot...just watching the road while my brain whirred with the ideas and their implications. I blinked my eyes a few times and looked around. What I saw shocked me. I actually had to pull the car over and stop. I felt inside that in no uncertain terms the heavens had just informed me that its not the pupils place to say when the lesson was over. I got out of the car and walked about ten feet in front of it.
On both sides of the road the fields were covered with wildflowers. Now this didnít make allot of sense either. Who in their right mind would let some of the best growing soil in the world be over run with flowers? No sooner had I asked then I knew the answer.
Is a wildflower any less a creation of God then the corn? Or the cabbage? Should it not also get its sunlight and its rain? Are the free spirits of the world any less then the most dedicated? I then knew that the wildflowers are the spiritual beings that could never live and thrive in the strait and tall rows of the corn. And the very fertilizer and plant food that makes the barley strong would shrivel the spirit of the wildflower. And so out here, in soil as good as all other soil, the wildflower has its own place to grow. I knew then that the one that had created all things had made sure all things had a place to grow, so the sunlight and rain of his love would let them become the best that they could be. Both physically and spiritually.
The crops and the flowers were at their best. They had been raised and had grown strong in the sunlight and the rain. It was then that I realized that soon this generation would be harvested so that a new generation could take its place. A sad thought. But just another fact of our existence....
Somehow I couldnít help but pray a bit. In hope that when all the crops are in and its time to rejoice in the end of the season, The Feast will have all of them there. The Christian corn with the Catholic Wheat and the Muslim Barley. All joining in the celebration. And the centerpiece on the masterís table will hold the brightest and most beautiful bunch of wildflowers that heaven has ever seen.
It was a lesson I learned that day that has changed my life and my perspective on all things.
If you ever find yourself out in Gods country or any country for that matter, Donít forget to keep an eye out for the wildflowers. They seem to be able to grow anywhere that the main cash crops arenít. And If by chance you come across a whole field of them then by all means stop and take a long look. You might just catch a glimpse of someone you know, or maybe even a reflection of yourself. And if you notice a big gangly flower out near the middle, just growing this way and that and blooming in all the wrong places, Donít worry about it too much. Its finally growing up to be just what it was meant to be. I should know. Itís me.
Milton Redman lives with his teenage son in fayetteville, Arkansas. He spends his free time writing on the subject of human spirituality. Contact him at email@example.com
National Wildflower Week: Celebrate wildflowers in your neighborhood May 4-10, The goal of National Wildflower Week and the mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center are the same - to educate people about the environmental necessity, economic value, and natural beauty of native plants.
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center became the new home for
National Wildflower Week in January, 2003. Visit www.wildflower.org