Secret of the Seed

Secret of the Seed © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Pentecost +3 (June 17), Year B: Mark 4.26-34

What showed up in the studio this week was not the seed but the space that waits for the seed, that holds itself in a shimmering emptiness, already loving what it cannot see but aches to enfold. How the green of growing already reaches toward the seed, the gold of harvest even now anticipates the way it will paint itself across the fruit that will be months in coming. How they love this mystery, this space where the seed will grow in secret while the rest of us sleep and rise night and day, our lives encompassing what we cannot see but lean toward in love.

Blessing that Holds
a Nest in Its Branches

The emptiness
that you have been holding
for such a long season now

that ache in your chest
that goes with you
night and day
in your sleeping,
your rising:

think of this
not as a mere hollow,
the void left from
the life that has leached out
of you.

Think of it like this:
as the space being prepared
for the seed.
Think of it
as your earth that dreams
of the branches
the seed contains,
and of the nest
the branches will hold.

[To use the image “Secret of the Seed,” please visit this page at Your use of helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

19 Responses to “Secret of the Seed”

  1. Maureen Says:

    Beautiful poem, Jan.

  2. Leslie Says:

    Jan, your work is looking so much more tactile these days! Have you ever had a gallery show? Thanks for your ministry, Leslie, Princeton NJ

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Thanks, Leslie! I’m having fun and being stretched in good ways as I move from collage into doing more painting. Yes, I’ve done some gallery shows. Much gratitude for your words, and many blessings!

  3. Janice Elsheimer Says:

    Dear Jan,
    I am forwarding this to a couple of dear friends who find themselves in that empty space you speak of here. Your reframing of what feels like emptiness as “the space being prepared for the seed” is both inspired and topical. Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday night and enjoying the Wellsprings service. It’s been too long, my friend

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Yay! So looking forward to seeing you tonight! You’ve been on my mind. Many thanks for your words and also for sharing this on Facebook. Blessings to you in this season of turning…

  4. Linda Goddard Says:

    Oh Jan!

    How rich your “Secrets of the Seed” is!

    And how lovely your Blessing!

    Thank you!

  5. Doreen Says:

    Thank you so much. Just what I needed this morning. How wonderful that God uses your work to touch our hearts and souls. I pray you continue to be nurtured as well. Doreen

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Doreen, thanks so much. Your words always come as a gift. Thank you for sharing them, and for your prayers. Many blessings to you and yours!

  6. Leigh Hitchcock Says:

    Your reflections have a timeliness that often speaks to me of the mysterious and beautiful ways that God works in our lives.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Thank you, Leigh! I’m very grateful for your words. Peace and blessings to you, and may God continue to work in your life in ways both mysterious and beautiful.

  7. Sue Mannshardt Says:

    Thank you, Jan, for your inspiring blessing — coming at a most appropriate time for me. Just yesterday I shared with my spiritual director a rather empty hollow feeling — her response was much like yours! I will savor this blessing (as I do much of your work!)…
    PS I still have blessed memories of the retreat you led at Tahoe with Companions on the Inner Way a couple years ago…and some of the conversations we had including your encouragement to stretch more fully into creative expression! Many blessings to you and your ministry.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Sue, it’s wonderful to hear from you! Thanks so much for your words. I too have wonderful memories of the Companions retreat—such a rich time with a remarkable community. It was a pleasure to meet you there and to know some of what’s unfolding for you.

      Thank you again for writing. I’d be delighted to know how the Spirit continues to stretch you in creative ways. Blessings to you!

  8. Eva Marie Everson Says:

    Love this, Jan. Loved it last night. Love it today.

    I am such rest today … I almost don’t want to work today I’m so at rest.

    Good for my soul, but not for my pocketbook. :)

  9. Gail Churchill Says:

    Lovely picture. The color and the placement on the canvas is what I like best. There is space in it, but it’s not empty space.

    This reading and your poem calls to mind the other lectionary readings. God looks at a person’s heart. See the story of David.

  10. Barbara Says:

    I love this Jan…
    so, so, so…right on!
    Inviting us to open,
    to surrender
    and wait,
    in silence,
    in wonder,
    in trust,
    in trust,
    in trust.
    New life is coming – again and again.

    You are a gift!
    with gratitude,

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