A good friend of mine has spent a career working outdoors. He knows a thing or two about growing, planting, the seasons, water courses, river ways, tidal flood plains and…acorns.
You see, a number of years ago a large oak tree fell in his garden. Acorns were strewn everywhere and my friend (having a job in the outdoors), gathered up the acorns. On his travel with work, by rivers, in hedge rows, countryside tracks and rural roads he has carefully planted these acorns. Today oak saplings are springing up all over Northern Ireland.
And as wonderful as this story actually is, there is (for me) something extra that is very special about acorns. According to my mate, once an acorn seed is planted it takes two full years before signs of growth begin to emerge from that actual acorn.
Two full years where for all intense purposes it seems as if nothing is happening.
In this week’s Gospel reading from John Chapter 12 v 20 to 33, Christ puts his followers on notice that his death is imminent…
“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. (John 12 v 24 to 25 The Message).
Before life can emerge (re-emerge?) sometimes “death” has to occur, loss has to occur, darkness has to run its course. There are seasons of our lives and experiences where the outer shell of what holds each of us together and even our inner scaffolding is stripped away or severely dented. Brutal stuff really, as Christ himself was to encounter on his journey to the Cross.
Back to the acorn briefly.
For two years (seemingly) an acorn seed shows no sign of life. In reality however, the shoot from the acorn takes this time not to sprout upwards but rather downwards, far from human seeing. Anchoring itself, grounding itself you might say prior to emerging as an oak sapling.
Life and growth amidst the darkness and seeming nothingness. The promise of the acorn, the crushed seed, Christ’s walk to Golgotha. The slow dawning of the resurrection.
Whatever your darkness is, or experience of despair or dejection…what new grounding, what new awareness what new life is emerging? Somehow.
Thanks. Be. To. God.