Secrets in the Squash

A squirrel just strolled past my back door with a huge seed pod in her mouth and proceeded to bury it among my impatiens. I’ve been thinking a lot about seeds this week. Many of the flowers in my garden are producing seed heads. Berries are plumping out on my honeysuckle and nandina. My magnolia has loosed her seeds as well. And my toddler grandson, helping me prepare dinner, was fascinated with the secret hiding inside squash and bell pepper: seeds, flat and squashy in the squash, tiny and pebbly in the pepper.

Seeds have much to tell us, including the obvious truth that what is planted is what will grow. I often wear a necklace that contains a tiny seed to remind me that I am always planting seeds of some kind. It’s a reminder to plant kindness and grace. A 16th century proverb says, “Good seed makes a good crop.”

We’re seeing, in our nation and throughout the world, the fruit that has grown from seeds planted decades ago. Which has jolted us into examining what is currently being planted, seeds that will bear fruit decades from now, fruit that the planters of those seeds will not even live to see. Speaking of . . .

I don’t know if you’ve felt the tension of this time, but if you have, and if you’re having a hard time settling your soul, you might try . . . seeds. Not eating them (although that may have some benefit too) but experiencing them in a tactile way through a practice that I occasionally do at Art and Soul , the studio where I take art classes. We have a variety of random material to inspire us to create – rocks, driftwood, ribbons, shells, and several baskets of seeds, including dried beans. One effective way to settle myself is to sit with a basket of beans and simply scoop up a handful and pour them back into the basket. It’s amazing how still I can become by simply focusing on feeling the shapes, listening to them shower back down, watching them tumble through my fingers. Noticing. Scoop and pour, scoop and pour. It’s calming.

Gathering these bean seeds is like gathering my scattered thoughts. If you feel scattered and agitated, try it. Just remember: Calm is not the same as apathy. We can still speak up or act. But when we do, we’ll respond with the strength, steadiness, and focus that comes from the calm we carry within us.

Seeds in their seasons,

slowly, surely, steadily

enfold life

calmly waiting

through dark days

and chill frost,

holding life

snug and secure

for the time when they will

crack open to light

and life

and wonder.

This week, notice the secrets in a squash or an apple or a flower gone to seed – real tangible, touchable, sometimes edible seeds. Touch them, feel them, the seeds, pods, nutshells, and seed heads. If you don’t have access to a garden or park, look inside an avocado, a tomato, even a banana. (Once in a class of four-year-olds, I shared the wondrous discovery that even bananas have seeds. I broke one in half to show them the tiny black dots inside, then passed around banana slices for everyone to eat. One little boy, now aware that there were seeds in bananas, refused to eat it.) If you’re really ready for a tactile experience, cut open a pumpkin, then dry and roast the seeds.

And enjoy!

“Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be.”

Marcus Aurelius


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Text and photos © 2018 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.