Song of the Seed: A Monastic Way of Tending the Soul


From the bestselling author of Seasons of Your Heart and A Tree Full of Angels, a lyric, loving, and inspiring approach to communion with God based on Benetictine spirituality.

With gentle nudges to enthusiastically embrace and nurture the sacred and simple in life, the bestselling author of Seasons in Your Heart and A Tree Full of Angels guides readers through three phases of spiritual reflection: bending, mending, and lending.

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The Song of the Seed: The Monastic Way of Tending the Soul

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From the bestselling author of Seasons of Your Heart and A Tree Full of Angels, a lyric, loving, and inspiring approach to communion with God based on Benetictine spirituality.

With gentle nudges to enthusiastically embrace and nurture the sacred and simple in life, the bestselling author of Seasons in Your Heart and A Tree Full of Angels guides readers through three phases of spiritual reflection: bending, mending, and lending.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060695545
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/28/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 319,167
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B., is a member of St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, AR. She directs retreats and workshops throughout the United States and is the author of A Tree Full of Angels and Seasons of Your Heart.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Song of the Seed

The farmer waits
for the precious crop
from the earth,
being patient with it
until it receives
the early and the late rains.
You also must be patient.
Strengthen your hearts,
for the coming of the Lord is near.

James 5:7-8

The earth is a mother. Her soil has soul. She blesses each seed that is sown, and the seed becomes a song. From the altar of her womb we are fed. The sower is the priest or priestess offering the seed to mother earth. The poet is the one who understands this best:

As I kneel to put the seeds in
careful as stitching, I am in love.
You are the bed we all sleep on.
You are food we eat, the food
we ate, the food we will become.
We are walking trees rooted in you...

I worship on my knees,
laying the seeds in you, that worship
rooted in need, in hunger, in kinship,
flesh of the planet with my own flesh,
a ritual of compost, a litany of manure....

My ancestors were people of the soil. Memories of the way of the earth are etched in my soul. I have always felt a unique kinship with the land. Perhaps this is why the parable of the sower and the seed holds a special enchantment for me.

The artist Vincent van Gogh felt this enchantment also. He was charmed by the magic of memories of the past. For him, the sower was a symbol of longing for the infinite. The idea of a sower forever haunted him and gave birth to his many paintings of the Sower.

I am using the parable of the sower and the seed as the text for yourretreat. A splendid parallel can be found in the seed falling into the soil and the seed of the Word of God falling into your soul.

The seed is the Word of God. Many seeds have already been sown in you. Many songs have been sung through you because of your faithfulness to the Word. The song of the seed is the continuous prayer of your daily life — your life in process.

The "longing for the infinite" that van Gogh spoke of resides in every human heart. At times you may wonder about the origin of this longing. Could it be part of the mystery whispered to you by the angel at your birth? Is it one of the seeds sown in you trying to sing its way through your soil?

It seems to be a mixture of joy and sadness, love and fear, loneliness and contentment; yet when you try to name it, all words limp. It has taken up residence in the depths of your being, and it refuses to be silent.

This infinite longing that stirs in the depths of your soul is a spark of the divine. It is one of the seeds that has fallen into your life. It may be a seed that was sown many years ago. You will be restless with longing until you listen to its song.

As you prepare for your retreat, reflect on this paraphrase of the parable of the sower and the seed. Variations of the text can be found in Luke 8:4-15, Matthew 13:1-23, and Mark 4:1-20.

A sower went out to sow some seed. As the seed was sown, some fell on the edge of the path and was trampled on; the birds of the air ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it came up it withered, having no moisture. Some seed fell among thorns; the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some seed fell into good soil, it grew and produced a hundredfold (NRSV, paraphrased).

This is a story about the passion of an extravagantly lavish sower. Having grown up on a farm, I remember enough about sowing seed to know that one doesn't cast out seeds willy-nilly as this sower did. It is true there is a method of scattering seeds called broadcasting, but even when you are broadcasting you stay out of the briars, rocks, and pathways.

We know, of course, that the sower Jesus speaks of in this parable is a loving Father, a nurturing Mother. This is our God, the Divine Sower, who is so intent on getting the Word out that the possibility of losing a few seeds among the thorns and rocks is a small matter. Hope is the force behind this sowing. This is a sower who trusts the soil — who believes that the soil has soul. Thus the seed is cast out with wild abandon.

So what happens to all the seeds that this trusting Sower keeps broadcasting in our lives? Why do they not all take root? Why does each seed not become a song? The poet Tagore wondered about a similar problem many years ago. Let's take a look at his musings to see if they might correspond to the questions of our hearts.

I know not how thou singest, my master!
I ever listen in silent amazement.

The light of thy music illumines the
world. The life breath of thy music runs
from sky to sky. The holy stream of thy
music breaks through all stony obstacles
and rushes on.

My heart longs to join in thy song, but
vainly struggles for a voice. I would speak
but speech breaks not into song, and I cry out
baffled. Ah, thou has made my heart captive
in the endless meshes of my music, my master!

I, too, have felt captive in the middle of my song. I have felt the sadness of something holy trapped in my reluctant soil. The seed full of promise falls into my life, yet something prevents the seed from becoming a song.

Returning to the parable of the Sower, let us consider the journey of the seed. There was nothing wrong...

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Table of Contents

The Groundwork
1 The Song of the Seed 3
2 Romancing the Word 10
Pt. I Bending: The Dance
Day 1. The Dance of Trust 25
Day 2. The Dance of the Good Shepherd 28
Day 3. The Dance of the Spirit 31
Day 4. The Dance of the Child 34
Day 5. The Dance of the Dry Bones 37
Day 6. The Dance of Conversion 41
Day 7. The Dance of Sorrow 45
Day 8. The Dance of Joy 49
Day 9. The Dance of Love 52
Day 10. The Dance of Simplicity 56
Group Service. Bending to the Mystery Within: The Dance of the Indwelling Presence 60
Pt. II Mending: The Feast
Day 1. The Feast of Homecoming 72
Day 2. The Feast of Healing 76
Day 3. The Feast of Faith 79
Day 4. The Feast of Leisure 82
Day 5. The Feast of the Awakened Child 85
Day 6. The Feast of Freedom 89
Day 7. The Feast of Seeing Clearly 92
Day 8. The Feast of Encouragement 95
Day 9. The Feast of God as a Refuge 98
Day 10. The Feast of Your Identity 102
Group Service. Mending Your Reluctance to Own the Mystery Within: The Feast of the Indwelling Presence 105
Pt. III Tending: The Gift
Day 1. The Gift of Discipleship 118
Day 2. The Gift of the Bread of Your Life 123
Day 3. The Gift of Listening 126
Day 4. The Gift of Hope at the Tomb 129
Day 5. The Gift of Commitment 133
Day 6. The Gift of the Light of Life 137
Day 7. The Gift of Your Potential 140
Day 8. The Gift of Unconditional Love 143
Day 9. The Gift of the Buried Treasure 147
Day 10. The Gift of Communion with God 150
Group Service. Tending the Mystery Within: The Gift of the Indwelling Presence 153
Resources 159
Notes 163
Macrina's Choice: A Bibliography 167
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