Artist: Heather McMordie
- Carissa Woodwyk
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” - Mark 3:31-4:9
Listen: to give ear to; to pay attention to; to hear something with thoughtful attention; the active process of receiving and responding to spoken (and sometimes unspoken) messages.
Listening…it’s a practice, an art, that is so natural, so human. We were made - our ears, our minds, our hearts - to pay attention.
So, what happened? Why are we so bad at listening, at paying attention?
Giving presence, offering presence, means that we are fully and wholly present, focused on someone else and not ourselves. That’s hard.
Sometimes, the voices we are listening to are not what we want to hear, especially when they feel exposing or shaming or silencing. Our internal dialogue begins shifting to taking care of what’s happening inside of us, shutting out what’s happening inside of them.
The belief that where we are and who we are needs to feel comfortable, strong and right gives us an easy way out to dismiss what others are saying. Listening would perhaps threaten our moral and spiritual compass, our paradigms.
Listening…it’s something we have to practice - over and over and over again.
If we want to be evolving and growing and transforming, our physical ears (along with the “ears” of our heart and mind) have to remain open…to receive…to respond. Because hidden in every dialogue, in every interaction, there are “spoken and unspoken messages.” And, because we posses divine DNA, because we were formed in the image of God, our cells contain the capacity to actually DO something with those messages. Sometimes the “doing” is within us, sometimes the “doing” is through us, for them. And along the way, the process of what happens within us or to others or between our “mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters,” through our creator, is something mysterious and sacred and human. It’s called connection.
For connection to exist, there’s an open and vulnerable and honest exchange that happens - a giving and receiving.
As I read the passage for today, I can’t help but connect the “falling” of the seed - the giving - to the object that consumed it (birds, gravel, thorns, soil) - the receiving. And the seeds that thrived? They were the ones where the object - the good soil - knew what was given, knew how to respond. And they flourished.
Our creator is the GIVER of life, the GIVER of all that is good.
How will we receive what’s been given to us? How will we respond?
Will we consume? Choke? Die?
Or will we flourish?
May we be the kinds of people who embrace what’s been given to us through our divine DNA. And then practice, over and over and over again, paying attention…listening…until it becomes an art, until we experience connection…” with our mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters,” with our creator.
Heather is an artist and printmaker intrigued by dirt—the factors that shape it and the life it sustains. She is a Fellow at Second State Press, and has been included in recent exhibitions at the Governor's Residence and Morris Arboretum. See more from Heather on her website.
Title: What Grows the Dirt: Bo
Medium: watercolor, graphite, and colored pencil