The earth is still

Held hard

In winter’s heavy hand


Cruel fingers

Into stasis

The very life-force
Of the land

Yet underneath the frost

Our hopes remain

For those who have suffered loss

Who wake to fear

Glad to see the back end

Of a mournful year

The earth itself speaks to our need

Patience, patience

Trust the seed

No winter can resist

The greater power of spring

And even now

The clocks are ticking

Voices deeper than despair

Test the air



Ready to sing

Underneath the frost

Our hopes remain

This is poem from Gerard Kelly who, along with Chrissie his wife, leads the work of Bless, based in France.

It struck me because I have been reading Jesus parables about seeds and sowing in Mark’s gospel and I was taken by his line “Patience, patience/ Trust the seed”. This is the message of Jesus in these parables. The seed is powerful – it contains all it needs to not only live but to reproduce. Jesus was more concerned that we work on our own hearts rather than working on improving the seed to make make it more powerful, palatable, or manageable.

It has often been said that a tree doesn’t have to work hard to produce fruit – it simply needs to dig deep into the earth for refreshing and nutrition – and it benefits from a gardener who can prune it well so that it can glory in being a great display. This is the wisdom Jesus brings when he says that we are like branches who are part of his vine. We abide, and we let God the gardener prune us. So, abiding is the secret; but it is very hard to do the abiding when there is either wasteland all around, or no evidence of new life to encourage and inspire us. Abraham found it hard to abide and so couldn’t trust the seed – he had to (literally?metaphorically?idiomatically?) sow his own, counterfeit, seed. Moses found it hard to abide and so used brute strength to release refreshing water rather than the word of God. I watch films and read books about people taking situations into their own hands and making huge mistakes, while I the audience shout at the screen for them to stop, to listen, to hang on, to trust.

It is very hard to have patience and trust these days, especially when people are sick around us, when there is an urgency to make things different. In fact, we are often rendered helpless. So, patient trusting mustn’t be confused with paralysis, inactivity or fatalistic resignation. Jesus was quiet for 30 years, as was Joseph and the apostle Paul was hidden in the soil of discipleship for well over 10 years. But their hiddenness was also a place of development and growth. They each learned to lean on God, to hone their gift and to learn the Word. And when the right came, they were like the shoot breaking the topsoil, being seen, being active, being present and being decisive.

Trusting the seed therefore is trusting in what is happening in our hearts, and if that’s not much, then providing the right soil conditions for it to happen. How encouraging that Gerard points to the natural season of Spring as a way to help us know the deep hope that is within always has more life in it than the apparent deadness of the winter cold.

Then Jesus said, "God's kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time!”
Mark 4:26-29

Martin J Young

If you’d like to read more of Gerard’s work and to find out more about the Bless Network see:


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