They that sow in tears *
shall reap in joy.
He that now goeth on his way weeping, and beareth forth good seed *
shall doubtless come again with joy, and bring his sheaves with him.
We have been given many, many seeds. The problem is that these seeds are handed us throughout our lives by the handful, all mixed together and without any labels. In our palms, we might find short ones, fat ones, black ones, white ones, speckled and spotted ones. None one ever sat us down and said, “Okay, so the short red ones are for tomatoes” or “the cream-colored ones with the frame around it are for growing zucchini.” Each seed sits in our hand as a mystery.
Some, though, we can name because the strong memory of when that seed was given to us. We remember the little purple one and call it, “rape”. We remember the little yellow one and call it, “major disappointment”. I, personally, have a tiny blue seed that I received when my fifth-grade girlfriend (that’s what we called ourselves, boyfriend/girlfriend) kissed another boy at a birthday party at the local skating rink. I know it might seem silly now but I carry a lot of hurt and distrust because of that childhood event. It is a seed that has been given to me. Others might be named: failed dreams, broken relationships or betrayed trust. We know just a few names of this jumble of seeds that have been given to us. We know their potency and influence in our lives. And we sow these seeds with many tears.
I think that the Myrrh-Bearing Women were carrying similar seeds of disgust, disappointment and fear that were thrust into their hands that frightful Friday afternoon. We know the story well: before them, naked and beaten, hung the Messiah in whom they had trusted. All of his disciples (save the one he loved) fled, denying that they even knew that crucified man. Left there at the foot of Golgotha with Our Lady and St. John, they wept bitterly to watch their Lord and savior die a cruel death of capital punishment. They sowed these seeds with many tears, so many that Christ told them not to weep for him but for themselves. (Lk. 23:28) Did they continue this on their way to the tomb, carrying the aromatics of a funeral?
What we don’t realize enough is that those seeds of great death that haven been given to us (disappointment, anger, bitterness, etc.) are good seed. They are terrible, awful things that are — in many cases — downright evil, but they are really good seed. We are tempted to cast them off, to be done with them and to ignore them for they are so awful and crushing that it is hard to comprehend. These seeds are terrible for life but are fantastic for resurrection. For, what is the best seed of new life other than the birth pangs of the mother? What is the best seed of resurrection other than death?
On this holiest of weeks, let us go out weeping and carry this good seed. Let us scatter all those seeds of deep pain that we can name and those that we cannot. Let us scatter that seed at the Garden, where our Lord sweat blood. Let us scatter that seed on the way to Calvary, where he tells us not to weep for him but for ourselves; they will be watered by our tears. Let us scatter those horrific seeds at the foot of the cross, where they will be fed by the water and blood which flowed from Our Lord’s side. Let us scatter that seed by Our Lady as she cradles the lifeless body of her son, those seeds watered by her sorrows. Let us scatter those pains along the way to the tomb with the Myrrh-Bearing Women, whose songs of lamentations will help the seeds to grow.
And, we might be just as surprised as they, that the seed of pain had taken on a new body; the seed of loneliness had grown into the Cosmic Christ who shattered hell; and the seed of death had blossomed into new life. What was sown in tears, will be reaped with joy. We who carry this good seed to the tomb, weeping the entire way, will come back with joy shouldering the sheaves of a new harvest, a new life, a resurrection. And this, as the Psalmist reminds us, is doubtless.
O cross, our one reliance, hail!
Still may thy power with us avail
to give new virtue to the saint,
and pardon to the penitent. V. Fortunatus, trans. J.M. Neale.