Even though, chronologically, I am past the summer quarter of my life, each year continues to have its cycle of seasons. In his book, Naked Spirituality, Brian McLaren calls spiritual summer (the inward Beltane), The Season of Complexity. It is a season of mastering skills, achieving goals, and conquering challenges (maturing and ripening). As with every season (external and internal), we cycle through it many times over the course of a life.
At one point, McLaren quotes C. S. Lewis speaking about the most important conversation we have each day. Lewis identifies this as “…the conversation you have with yourself before you speak with God, because in that conversation with yourself, you decide whether you are going to be honest and authentic with God, or whether you are going to meet God with a false face, a mask, an act, a pretense.” (p.89)
I would suggest that the conversation about authenticity applies to every relationship we have. Yes, it is true of our relationship with the Holy, but it is equally true with friends, family, neighbors and strangers, with the earth, with ourselves.
I would propose that this is, at root, a conversation about fertility (life) and sterility (death), about maturing and ripening — yes, aging — (life) or trying to remain impervious to change (death). Are we willing to be real – however imperfect that reality is – and share the fruit (fertility) of our authenticity? Or do we prefer to present the controlled perfection of a mask – however dead (sterile) that mask may be – offering nothing more than illusion to the universe? My guess is that the women and men we admire the most are persons of fertility, willing to be authentic, revealing their flaws and wounds (and wrinkles) as well as their successes and gifts.
One of the most paradoxical images of the summer quarter is not an image of perfect wholeness, but an image of shattering: fertile seeds breaking open in order to produce fruit and grain. In our summer seasons, we also break open and produce: sometimes in giddy abundance and sometimes smaller harvests. In the way of nature, sometimes our fruit is worthy of ribbons at the state fair and other times it is stunted or scarred from difficult weather and limited resources.
But we have learned something frightening about seeds in recent years: we have learned that we humans can intentionally produce seeds that grow only sterile crops. Through a terrifying number of patents, large agribusinesses have successfully insured huge annual profits because, unlike the life-giving abundance of natural seeds which can be used to continue a cycle of fertility, these patented seeds must be purchased over and over, season after season.
This week I invite you to buy a packet of non-patented seeds and plant them (in a pot, a garden, a neighborhood park, along a roadside). I invite you to ponder what it means to be a sustainable seed source. I invite you to ask:
How do you insure that the fruit of your life is shared in (abundantly fertile) ways that spread its beauty, wisdom, hope, and witness, widely and freely?
Are you willing to broadcast your fruit and seed where it can be cross-pollinated and become something new, perhaps stronger, more fruitful?
Where do you fall into barren behaviors, hoarding life energy to yourself rather than pouring it out?
Do you hold power and wisdom closely lest others benefit and “not need you”?
Who are the people who give you the courage to risk your most authentic self: the seed that produces its own unique, diverse crop? the seed that produces a crop no one else can produce?
Find a photo or symbol or quotation that speaks to this courage and add it to your meditation space or your summer shrine.
And walk this week in beauty and generosity.
© 2014, Andrea La Sonde Anastos