Unless the Seed Dies

Song number seven

Good Friday traditions in our area involve much about gardening. The one that sticks the most is planting the seed potatoes, onions, and asparagus. Of course many others plant radishes, lettuce varieties, and peas also. Any kind of bulb plant can be buried on Good Friday here in growing zone five with a lot of success. But most tulips, crocus, and daffodils are planted in the fall.

Why do we plant the seeda potatoes on Good Friday? The holiday follows the lunar calendar and means that the chance from hard frost before the plants peek out of the soil is not likely. But there are some very strong spiritual reasons for planting the seed potatoes on Good Friday.

Being a Christian and following the Jewish back drop to the Easter weekend holds much sway on my belief system to life and gardening. Tradition has it that the Messiah would be the final passover lamb to abolish the old system and fulfill all prophecies. The sacrificial Lamb would die and be raised on the third day, much like the story of Jonah being spit up from the belly of the great fish on the third day. The Old Testament stories and prophecies all point to Christ Jesus. I believe all of that to be true.

But why potatoes? Remembering my Irish heritage and my maternal lineage means that the potatoes were the “bread” of the land and the reason for my being on this continent. The potatoe famine sent many starving people to the New England to find new fortune. When the people settled in America that came both for the freedom of land and the freedom of religion.

Having their own gardens to plant their own potatoes was just as important as being able to go to the church of their own choosing. Planting potatoes on Good Friday symbolizes all of the family heritage that I can remember. But it also symbolizes that Christ was buried on that day for a freedom of consciousness that no one can ever make any rules against. Because of Christ I know that I will go on to eternal life with my Heavenly Father. And Praise God that for me, many of my earthly father’s will be their also.

Looking forward to Sunday, to Someday is what it is all about. We know that the cross was not the end of the story. We know that this earth is not the end of the story. Just like our hope that the potatoes will send forth a shoot out of the ground, Christ came out of the tomb. He is not there in the ground. While we may wait longer that three days to harvest the potatoes, our hope for the spuds to feed us through the winter months will be rewarded in the fall harvest time.

The title of the song lends to a sad reprise. Good Friday was a sad day for the disciples and friends of Jesus. All funerals are sad. Saying goodbye is never easy. It’s the hope of reunion that keeps us looking forward. The song uses the words of Jesus, “unless the seed dies, it will never multiply.” The passage is found in John chapter twelve.

(Here I find that in the sleeve of the CD, the passage is written as Luke chapter twelve. It is little errors like this that I feel aided the failure of the music to thrive on. Proper editing even at this insignificant level provides the dismissal of relevancy for the reader. I am sad that these errors were not noticed.)

What makes a funeral procession remembered as Good? Has anyone ever commented on the goodness of a funeral? Yet we remark on the Friday of our Lord’s crucifixion and burial as Good! Sunday. Easter Sunday! The answer is the resurrection.

Potatoes, onions and asparagus are now in the ground on our acreage. Once again we are growing food that we do not eat that much of, but the kids will take the potatoes. The onions will go in the salsa, and the asparagus will go in the freezer. We do eat that.

New hats, new shoes, and new dresses might not only be for the children at Easter. All those potatoes make little bodies grow up taller, so the new dress-ware is welcome for the little boy whose pants are far above the ankles by spring time. At some point I will have to go into the storage containers to find all of the hats from Easter past. I am rather sad that Easter hats are not “welcome” anymore. They are my favorite spring thing. Now-a-days I just wear a baseball hat all the sunshine season. Maybe I’ll find myself a new “garden” hat this year, Complete with a tie to keep it away from the wind! Haha.

Sunrise services for Easter Sunday have gone out of style. Today the breakfast, baptisms and singing is all rolled up into one service. People don’t sit still as long anymore. Half the service is done standing. Yet Easter Sunday is still my favorite Sunday at church of the whole year.

Remember the leavening? Okay some people don’t even know what I am talking about because they have never made bread. But the idea behind yeast and bread rising goes right along with the story of Easter. Without the leavening, the bread is flat. It you bake the bread before it has a chance to raise. (In a hurry, like the passover celebration was done because they were packing up to leave Egypt the next day).you will have flat-bread.

Some people make flat bread on purpose. My husband’s family has a traditional Christmas flat-bread. My daughter taught us how to make pita bread for gyros. But back to the lesson at hand. We made “Resurrection Rolls” this year for our family gathering. The baking powder biscuit bread is not allowed to rise, but rolled out in sheets like the cloth that was used to roll up the dead. (Jesus was wrapped with linen cloths by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arymithea). Then we take a pure white marshmallow,baptize it in water, roll it up with spices, and wrap it up with the dough. All the symbolisms of Christ life, baptism, death and burial. The quick bread is put into the oven (tomb) and baked for 12 minutes. The delicious roll is devoured after a short stroll outdoors. Symbolizing the run to the tomb on Sunday morning by the disciples. Of course one person is left to guard the tomb and take the rolls out when the timer rings.

The empty roll is a favorite of every one in the family. The sweet cinnamon treat is such a good reminder of all that life with Jesus as Savior has to offer us.

Baking these resurrection rolls as a family is going to be one of our family traditions. This year our little two going on three grand-daughter got to help with the making of the rolls. I am so glad that I insisted we make the rolls as a family and read the Bible story from the book of John.

When I wrote this song, miscarriages had become a fact in my life. The dream to have more children and raise children of faith was a hope that I coveted. The thought that because I had ITP, my body would begin to turn against me and my dreams of more children was so devastating. Not very many people even knew that having more children was one of my strongest hopes and dreams. Letting that dream die was the hardest thing that I thought I would have to go through. And moments when conversation turned to babies and expectations was painful and difficult to swallow. I did not know that my own husband would soon get his “two is enough” reality and even after my spleen was gone and the hope for more children would again have to dies, as his thyroid took a crash.

So there’s our ‘two is enough” story and more discussion bout the marital chambers than I ever thought I would share.

Needless to say, that was my dream and the heartfelt cry of wanting more family that I was letting go of while I penned that song. Other dreams would have to find life. God would have to give me different desires.

Some dreams, wishes, and wants are not as secret as this. But my heart aches for those for whom the womb lies barren. For those families with multiple children, God bless you! May He grant you grace as you raise children of faith. Our two girls are such a blessing to us, and now that we have grandkids my arms are blessed to hold the little ones while they still can be held. They grow up so fast. Putting them down is the hardest thing sometimes.

Now, my hands stay busy with crochet. My fingers play in the dirt with seedlings and plants that have multiplied beyond reason sometimes. The process of plant reproduction is such a joy to me. I can hardly believe how many geranium babies I have from the 15 or 20 plants that I had last fall. I think there are well over 50 plants. I have learned that it is okay to prune the fig tree so that the fruit will come on.

The Lord was busy pruning me all of those years ago when I wrote that song. Multiplication is still my favorite math lesson. Don’t get me going on the teaching years. That will come later.

I have sat on this entry long enough. The conclusion seems to painful to attend. Something akin to a funeral or a memorial service. I am in the depths of despair today for some very unknown emotional reason. This day, April 15th, I chose to watch Spielberg’s “Lincoln.” For some reason it just seemed appropriate to commemorate his death that way.

We do not chose birth. Death also by God’s design should not be an act of the will. Life however, holds many decisions of our making. In choosing, choose life.

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