Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sowing Seeds

The song that I have been listening to the past few days is "Sower of Seeds" by Pete Seeger. You can listen on Rhapsody at or you can read the lyrics at For me, the key part is the part that goes

Some seeds are trodden in the pathway;
Some seeds fall on stony ground.
But some seeds fall on fallow ground

In the sidebar of this blog, I have links to some blogs I like. One is Fay Campbell's blog, The Laughing Pantheist.

One day at the supermarket, I noticed that Seventh Generation laundry detergent is now being sold in compostable containers. When I saw that, I recalled that a few months before, Fay had written to Seventh Generation to express her concern about their use of plastic bottles. When I saw the compostable bottles, what I saw was that what Fay had worked for had come true. I thought, "That Fay sure is powerful."

It was only a few days after that trip to the supermarket that Fay wrote her post "Losing my ego or saving my religion?" In this post, she writes of her frustration that her effort to bring more sustainable practices to her workplace was not successful.

Two efforts made toward sustainability, one directed to Seventh Generation, one to her workplace. In one case, the result she desired came about. In the other case, the result she desired did not come about. But the effort was the same in both cases. It's not like she did something correctly one time, and something incorrectly the other time. And, even though she did not get the result she wanted in her workplace, maybe she planted the seed of an idea. Maybe her colleagues did not adopt her recommendations, but maybe if they hear the same thing from another person in the future, maybe now they will be a little more receptive to it.

We have our own willpower, but that is all. We cannot control the will of others. We cannot overcome illness just by willpower. We cannot stop the turning of the seasons. The world is full of plants and animals each doing what best advances their own well-being. Our own willpower is just one among an infinite number of forces at work in the universe. We can choose our actions, but we can't control how the world will respond to those actions.
Fay is a hero for standing up for what she believes in. It does not matter that in one case her recommendation was adopted, and in one case it was not. She doesn't control that. She only controls what she does.

We go through life sending out seeds. We can't control which ones will sprout, but we can make choices about which ones to sow, where to sow them, and how much to tend what we have planted. Sometimes I have trouble making those choices. If we see cement all around, do we keep dropping seeds on the cement, or do we journey in the hopes of finding fertile soil? But if cement is in all directions as far as the eye can see, how do we choose a direction? And how do we know if we ever will find soil? If the cement goes on forever, making the journey would be a waste of effort,

If we scatter seeds all over, just keep on moving to scatter more seeds, and never tend the ones we have planted, the ones we have planted have less chance of survival. But if we just sow one and tend it singlemindedly, then if it dies, we have nothing.

There is no answer. There is no guaranteed right way. We just have to keep putting our seeds out there, in accordance with our best judgment. Life will never turn out exactly as we planned or hoped, but if we're lucky, it will be an interesting and joyful journey.

1 comment: