On Seeds and Growth and Death and Life and Seeing Jesus: Standing in the Mystery

John 12:20-33

Truth be told, I am just standing still in the mystery this week.

Wondering how it is that some see Jesus and others simply can’t yet. And about this tenuous chain of witnesses from Philip to Andrew and finally to Jesus.

Wondering how it is that a seed actually works… and why it is that some take root and grow and others never do.

Trying to get my head around the invitation to eternal life we receive today, and what it actually means to ‘hate one’s life’ for the sake of something more, something else.

And that is in just the first few verses of today’s Gospel from John.

I am standing still in the mystery this week.

And maybe this is because I have stood so close to death in these last days: a place of such mystery I have never been able to fully wrap my mind around. (For how is it, really, that breath and heartbeat can be present one moment and just gone the next? Oh, I understand something of the biology of it, of course.  But that does not fully take away the mystery, does it?)

First with a couple of beloved ones, praying at bedsides within hours of their breathing their last.

And again with a family whose child, whose brother, whose grandson, whose cousin, whose nephew, whose friend, lost his life tragically, inexplicably.

I am standing still in the mystery this week and found myself  taken even deeper there as I walked after sundown having sat with the grieving more than once in a day. For as I walked past the cemetery which is in view of my back yard, I looked up to see a shooting star flame out right in front of me.

  • And I wondered where it came from and how far away it really was and whether pieces of its ash landed in someone else’s back yard.
  • I wondered how long it had shone in the sky and how long its journey was to here.
  • I wondered if anyone else had seen it, here in this neighborhood and perhaps miles and miles away as well.
  • And yes, I wondered why it was that I lifted my eyes at just that moment to see that flash of light and I remembered then the other times I have seen such as this and how, if nothing else, they served as reminders to pick up my head, to look beyond where I then stood, to remember there are promises bigger and bolder still being kept, still to be kept.

At least that’s what I tried to say to a family broken by grief this afternoon.

In a few minutes time span I could not begin to speak words to heal a hurt which they will likely always carry to one degree or another.  So instead I tried to point them to the mystery — to the truth that there is a great deal we cannot understand about living and about dying, about grief and about healing, but that in the middle of all that we cannot comprehend, God’s promise still holds.  Jesus still is. Love does not end or let go. Especially not the love God held for their loved one, nor for each one of them.

For I cannot know how it is that some can see Jesus and some cannot yet, even when in his very presence. I do not understand the mystery of faith.

I do not really know how it is that seeds take root and grow. No, I expect not even the most experienced farmer or the greatest expert in biology can fully explain the mystery of the source of life sheltered by the shell of a seed, can they?

And I surely cannot explain how death leads to life. I only know that it does. That again and again it does.

So for now, I am just standing still in the mystery. And maybe that is enough. For while mystery may mean that something is entirely or at least somewhat inexplicable to you or to me, it doesn’t make it untrue or unreal or even entirely inaccessible.

Indeed, if I can do nothing other this week than get out of the way enough to invite others into the mystery that is before us in Jesus, perhaps that is enough.

As eyes are opened.

And seeds are planted.

And life again finds its origin.

Because we don’t have to be able to explain it for it to be true.

We don’t have to define it for its meaning to capture those for whom the gift is intended now.

All we have to do, it seems to me, is step aside, and let God do what God will do.

In living and in dying and in bearing witness to both.

In seeds planted and bearing fruit.

In invitations extended and received to come into the presence of Jesus.

That is all we are asked to do today, it seems to me.

To just stand still in the mystery of all that God is and all that God has done and all that God will do next.

Especially in Jesus.

  • Perhaps my thoughts today contain more questions than answers, for how does one ‘understand’ or begin to explain what is so hard to fully comprehend?  What do you think?  Is it enough to simply try to get out of the way so that others can, in fact, ‘see’ Jesus?
  • I do like to be able to understand things, but having walked where I have this week, I find myself shaking my head and yet, still somehow trusting.  Have you ever found yourself there?
  • How do you find yourself thinking about that which is difficult to understand or explain in today’s Gospel? How have you found meaning in it even so?  Indeed where have you seen, where do you see Jesus?  And what does it mean for you to help others to see him, too?



  1. Kathy says:

    Thank you! Your words this week reflect where I find myself. Thank you for reminding me to allow the Holy Spirit room and space in my life to do the work of the kingdom. To heal and help all of us, not just those in the horrible pain of loss!

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