Death and parsnips

A friend of mine died this month. After a 4 year battle with cancer, he left his earthly body and claimed his heavenly one, of which he was well assured. He knew Jesus well, and when it came to his last day, he was confident that he wasn't at the end, but at the start of something much greater. I didn't know him as well as I could have, but all that I knew was good. He loved his family to bits, and was a giver of his time to those in need around him.

The news hit me a lot harder than I expected, perhaps because he was a father, and was a similar age to mine. What surprised me though, but seemed fitting upon reflection, was my immediate and unplanned reaction. I went to the fridge where I had some parsnip seeds chilling (to give them a simulated winter and hasten germination) and took them to the garden to sow. And with a considerable degree of emotion (that is, choking back tears) I made shallow furrows, placed the seeds in the ground, and covered them over. Garden therapy I suppose.

And that got me thinking. A seed can remain a seed, but if it does so, it eventually loses its viability and dies. Some plants, like parsnips, lettuce, and carrots, have seeds that only last a few months, whilst others, like gorse, can last for decades. But all seeds, if they remain as seeds, eventually die.

It is a bit of an anthropomorphic viewpoint, but a seed must be prepared to give up being a seed if it wants to be something greater. A parsnip seedling is no longer a seed. It has given up being a small, contained package of life (DNA, food stores, and embryonic roots and shoots), committed its life to the vagaries of the weather, soils, weeds, and its planter's care, and taken a risk. Many seeds don't make it. But some do.

And the potential of a seed is nearly limitless. One plant becomes hundreds of seeds. Hundreds of seeds become dozens of plants. Dozens of plants become thousands of seeds.

So my friend has been committed to the ground, and this part of his life is over. His earthly body will eventually disappear, but his legacy will not.

And I think there are truths here for us to ponder as we continue with our earthly lives. Perhaps things we need to give up to move on, or to become who we are meant to be. Do we know what our potential is? What is in the DNA of our souls that needs commitment and faith to be expressed? And for some of us, do we even know that once we are committed to the earth (whenever that may be), that what we knew was only the start? Food for thought?

So it is the time of year for sowing parsnips, along with beetroot, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, pak choi, cabbage, leeks, spring onions, peas, and snow peas. The trick most summers with germinating these well is to keep them moist for the whole germination period - I dont suspect that will be a problem with the amount of rain we are getting! And the harvest of summer crops continues, though I suspect the season will be somewhat truncated this year. Prepare for winter meals now by banking some of that autumn sunshine in the roots and leaves of the garden.

Kia kaha