Planting Seeds


Nothing compares to the feeling of rebirth that comes with planting seeds. Digging in the dirt, soil slipping through fingers and under fingernails, sowing seeds for new growth restores our connection to the earth. I’m thinking of planting very specific seeds in 2019. What kind of karmic seeds will I sow?

I picture students’ faces when they grasp the meaning of karma: “the seeds of our actions.” The reality that we indeed reap what we sow, that the cause and effect link between our actions and the their consequences is both certain and unbreakable, leaves students thoughtful and unusually quiet. I watch them reflect on the past and anticipate the future. Everything we do affects the world in untold ways. There’s no wiggling around, under, or out of the law of karma. Egads!

I see more convincing evidence every day of the interconnectedness of all life. All is intertwined, related, enmeshed. How many degrees of separation truly exist? None. I seek to honor this truth in my choices of what seed varieties to plant in 2019.

What harvest would I like to witness? What path must I take to reap the bounty of peace, empathy, grace, hope, honesty, and mental clarity?

While there’s much outside my control, in fact almost everything, I am in control of me. My seed selection is mine to make. I must take this seriously, keep a careful eye, and pay attention. My choices matter. Your choices matter. Seeds of our actions—consequences sure and inevitable.

So much matters—I sow seeds with my attitude, each gesture however small, my tone of voice, the language I use in conversation and also my inner voice, and with my behavior. While what I do matters, it matters equally what I choose not to do. I’m always planting. You’re always planting.


Everything matters more than we can know. Two examples of wise seeding come immediately to mind. Let’s go to a couple of very small towns—Brooklyn, Iowa and Troy, Virginia.

Laura Calderwood’s daughter, University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, was murdered by an undocumented immigrant, her body discovered August 21, 2018, a month after her disappearance. Immigrants fled the dairy farm where the accused worked, but one boy wanted to stay behind and finish high school. Her grieving mother asked herself what daughter Mollie would do when her son Scott asked if his friend, Ulises Felix, could live with them. Calderwood invited Uli to live in her home. Uli’s parents had worked with Mollie’s killer. From Terence McCoy’s article in the Washington Post, upon Uli coming home one evening: “Are you hungry now?” Laura asked. “I’ve got some homemade chicken soup and some garlic bread.”

I met Marcey as a World Literature student when I spoke to her class at the Fluvanna Women’s Correctional Center a month ago. Reflecting on our discussion on the value of meditation, Marcey writes: “Not only have I learned how to embrace others who are not like me by being more inclusive, I’m focusing more of my energy outward to help others, to look around and notice how grateful I am to be alive and able. I’m getting out of my own way and by helping others my own issues don’t seem so insurmountable.”

Seeds of love germinating in Brooklyn, Iowa and in Troy, Virginia. In her 1983 poem “The Common Living Dirt,” Marge Piercy bows: “As I kneel to put the seeds in / careful as stitching, I am in love.” Let’s stay in love.

It’s planting season for us all. Happy Digging.