• Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Kingdom of God is Like . . . Sweetgrass

My parents used to live in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. One of the local crafts is the making of handmade baskets using sweetgrass. This morning, I read a reflection on sweetgrass in a newsletter from Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church in Pawleys Island, SC. It quotes Karl Ohlandt, an ecologist and landscape architect. He says, "Sweetgrass thrives in poor, sandy soil exposed to hot sun, strong winds, and salt spray." He note, "It's a tough life." Apparently, some time ago, people tried to increase sweetgrass yields by planting it in rich soils away from the hardships of its natural habitat. It grew well. However, the "easy living" produced "long, weak leaf blades," wholly unsuited to making good baskets. As Ohlandt says, "the grass has to have survived difficult times: long periods of drought, storm winds carrying salt spray, and soil with little nutrients." (Thanks to Callie, of Holy Cross, for writng about this in the newsletter.)
I love these types of parables. I can almost hear Jesus starting a story with, "The Kingdom of God is like the sweetgrass that . . . " As much as we want life to be easy, as much as we plan to avoid the hardships, it is just those times that bring strength to our weary souls and minds. This parable applies to life in general. It also applies to the struggle for economic and social justice that inform the MDGs. The struggle makes us stronger. It nurtures us, teaches us, strengthens our resolve to press forward. The struggle helps us to weed out the wheat from the chaff of our lives, helping us to see what we truly value and where we really want to go.
Thanks for the sweetgrass that thrives in less than ideal conditions, for the Kingdom of God is like that too!

1 comment:

  1. There are few places where our culture's unrelenting attempt to shape the values of kingdom people are as diabolical as this one. We live in a society where the good life is equated with the ability to manage risk and eliminate any sense of unwanted difficulty.

    This last year, I completed a six month study of First Peter with a group of adults in my church and we found ourselves having to confront anew the belief that the "blessed life" is the life lived at the furthest point from pain.

    We have so unwittingly bought into the notion that more is better than less, bigger more blessed than smaller, that ease more spiritual than travail.

    Your sweetgrass illustration is such a powerful reminder that in the kingdom of God there is no shortcut to the formative work that can only occur when we determine to stop defining achievement by the miles we have logged on the road of pain free living.