Pearl Onion Sets in the Pig Pen

Matthew 13: 1-9

“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. 2Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9Let anyone with ears* listen!’”

“We’ve been travelin’ on the rocky ground, rocky ground,” Springsteen’s background singers croon out sweetly on his latest album. Even though I’ve been listening to that album over and over during my commute and other times (grading papers, writing, now), there are other reasons I’m thinking about rocky ground.

I’m still spending time this week thinking “what if  my life never changed,” and I’m enjoying that focus–I have so many blessings. Here’s one thing that thrills me–I’ve made a life where I get to spend a lot of time reading,  much of it work related, but not all. Where do I get time to do reading for fun? As I confessed on Monday, I average about 40 hours of work a week. But we also don’t have cable, so there’s not a whole lot of TV viewing in my schedule. Lots and lots and lots of book time.

But one of the reasons I was motivated to take a hard, blessing-laser-look at my life is that it seems to me the universe has been telling me no a fair bit lately. Lots of yes, sure, but NO sometimes when I was really hoping for yes. Everything from applying for a UW System position that would’ve meant a chance to work with some amazing people AND get a course release to do it,  to getting published, to getting a course approved for a particular degree designation for students. No. No. No.  A few others as well–no, no, no.

Yesterday it wasn’t “no,” but it was furrowed brows and pursed lips and blank looks and “go through another layer of protocol to get approval.” Also possibly some conversations through pursed lips when I wasn’t in the room.  Fine–that’s the world of work, right? You can’t always get what you want. Not every idea pans out. There is no “I” in “shared governance.” I get it. I’m not taking it personally, but I’m taking it.  I’m taking it and processing it.

It’s not like I lack for ideas. If the universe says no this time, I’m ready with another launch. Seeds aplenty. Enough to scatter.

My question is this:  where’s my fertile soil?

I know that later in Matthew 13 the disciples ask Jesus to explain the parable, but I’m suspicious of that–it seems more likely to me that Jesus ended with  Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” (from the King James Version, the poetry of which can’t be beat, especially not by “let anyone with ears listen,” ironic, since apparently the translators of the New Revised Standard Version, which I like for other reasons, had no ears to hear music).  It seems likely to me that the disciples ended up going home and saying, “Well, what do you think he meant this time?” And came up with the word of God idea and told that to others so that eventually the cartoon bubbles got mixed up and people remembered Jesus saying all those words. In any case, in my head this story is merging with Jesus saying “Don’t cast your pearls before swine,” and I’m left wondering if I’m sowing my seeds in the right place.

Where’s the line between giving it the old college try and beating your head against a dead horse?

In looking to Jesus (as I often, often do), I can’t help but remember two contradictory stories–there’s the shepherd who searches relentlessly for the one lost sheep (not practical!), which would indicate diligence and patience are called for.  Then there’s the “brush the dust of that town off your feet” if people won’t listen to you. Again and again–Mary or Martha? Should I stay or should I go? (No, wait–that’s the Clash.)

And then when it  comes to “don’t cast your pearls before swine,” I have to think of Rodney Jones calling pigs “the dolphins of the barnyard,” and I also remember Dorothy Parker’s response when someone moved to let her go through a doorway first, saying, “age before beauty.” Her response was “pearls before swine.”

Clearly, what I’m saying is, I’m addle-pated. I guess for the moment I’ll trust in the gospel of the Boss who sings, towards the end of “Rocky Ground,” that “there’s a new day comin’.” Maybe in that new day there will be some more yes and slightly less no. Of course the song ends with the same sweet-sounding chorus of hard times, “We’ve been travelin’ on the rocky ground, rocky ground.”

At least I’m looking down now and then and noticing, “Oh. That’s rocky ground.”

9 responses to “Pearl Onion Sets in the Pig Pen

  1. For what it’s worth, Mercury – which has been retrograde for about 3 months, went direct yesterday. This means that anything having to do with communication – from internet glitsches to stalled international diplomacy to marital standoffs – can now move ahead. You are, as a professional communicator, a child of Mercury. When it’s retrograde, your message(s) will inevitably boomerang back to you for review and further internalization. When it goes direct, the path opens.
    I used to say (and really, I sort of believed it) that there were only two questions in the world, and all other questions that anyone could ever think of boiled down to these two. The questions are:
    1 – Do you love me?
    and
    2 – What time is it?

    It’s important to organize your questions into the proper categories. E.g., (if I may be bold to say so): Let’s say …. publishing. At first it looks like the question “Why am I not published or publishing yet, or so far” belongs in category 1, when in fact, it may belong in category 2. (cf cycles of Mercury).

    I haven’t tested this theory, but suggest to you that your questions are central ones and very close to the ultimate two, so it should be fairly easy to take the next step and place them in the proper category. Once you’ve done that, the nature of the next step becomes clearer.

    • Bless you, Hannah. You officially win the prize for Deep Wisdom from the Weirdest Direction (weird in the sense of I would never have expected it).

      What’s next? Isn’t this fun?

  2. Marnie:

    I’m reminded of a quote when I read your blog. It’s by Francis Bacon, unfortunately no relation to one of my teen-middle age crushes, Kevin . “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” Eventhough you didn’t get the job you earned for or some others weren’t on the same page with your creations, you’ll still be much happier and appreciated by continuing to be the creative force you are. Your time to lead will come and others will finally recognize it. I love working with you and I just know something will click soon.

  3. Mrs. D.,

    Sometimes unanswered prayers are miracles within themselves…I sit here now thinking about all of the different ways my life could have turned out and just laugh. Like I have said before, if you want to make God laugh, tell Him/Her your plans…

    If only I had not miscarried my daughter at 22, my son would have grown up with a sibling. If I had hopped into my car and driven straight up I-95 North when I graduated from high school at 18, my son would have most likely never been born. If I had stayed married to my first husband, the physically abusive cocaine/alcohol addicted jackass, I would have most likely been dead or serving time for murder in a federal pen by now.

    I would have also missed out on all of the family obligations and heartaches from the last 31 years that I have been forced to endure. I shudder to think what might have happened to my parents if I had not been around to take care of them.

    I always figured by now, I’d have either a Ph.D or JD degree, but I still don’t have those, either. Maybe one day I will hit The Mega Millions or Powerball and will be able to afford Law School tuition…LOL…Questioning the possible “what ifs” doesn’t do anything but give me a migraine headache. The past is over and finished. There is nothing you can do to get a “do over” on any part of it.

    Please take care of yourself. I pray that you and your family have a blessed and peaceful Easter holiday.

  4. I hear you.

    Maybe we should read “Getting to Yes” or some other business-Bible-type thing.

    FYI, I tried to get ENG 262 designated as ES (like HIS 101, covering the same period, and my class starts with Native Americans and the Spanish, and has African-American perspectives as well). The answer: NO, even after I sent them a syllabus and reading calendar with all the of the ES readings/class periods highlighted–and it was well over 20% of the total class (though they told me that there is no percentage). I’m still ticked about it.

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