Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Seed Market

A few days ago I sowed handfuls of wildflower seeds in our new front garden. Midway through, hunched over the dark dirt, I stopped to look at the seeds themselves, and was just overwhelmed. What perfect planets of creation, each a different color, form, all holding the birth of a flower that is just itself: foxglove, forget me not, columbine, poppy.

The next day, I read Rumi's "The Seed Market" as my morning poem, out on the back steps watching the light come through the Douglas fir trunks, the bigleaf maple leaves, so sweet and green. Every one of them started as a seed. How can this be, this miracle of the seed? What wonders there are in the world.

The Seed Market

Can you find another market like this?

with your one rose
you can buy hundreds of rose gardens?

for one seed
you get a whole wilderness?

For one weak breath,
the divine wind?

You've been fearful
of being absorbed in the ground,
or drawn up by the air.

Now, your waterbead lets go
and drops into the ocean,
where it came from.

It no longer has the form it had,
but it's still water.
The essence is the same.

This giving up is not a repenting.
It's a deep honoring of yourself.

When the ocean comes to you as a lover,
marry, at once, quickly,
for God's sake!

Don't postpone it!
Existence has no better gift.

No amount of searching
will find this.

A perfect falcon, for no reason,
has landed on your shoulder,
and become yours.

-Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)

The little seed of the self, all thistle-spiked or smooth and glossy, maybe soft as a fruit, maybe hard like an almond shell—it is good to let it release into the surrounding trees now and then, become the calls of raptors overhead, the red breasts of robins, the little candle-flame flickering in my lap as I read into the morning and remember that when I breathe in, I breathe in the exhalations of all these seeded trees and plants, and when I breathe out, I give them a bit of carbon dioxide to absorb. And of course I share air too with the juncos, the towhees, the raccoons, the does.

American kestrel, photo from Wikipedia
Whenever I read Rumi I feel full of gold honeyed light, and also wonder, and generally some confusion, a delightful sort of confusion. I'm not sure what precisely he means about the falcon landing on your shoulder, what this means in the great metaphysical scheme of his lyrical world, but to me, I see a little kestrel, perfect and small, the sort you see perched like some divine goddess on telephone wires, watching meadows, kohl-eyed, quick, with wings that look almost blue against the cream of their chests. The idea of such a being landing on my shoulder, and staying there, keeping me company-- well, this makes whole fields of wildflower seeds germinate and bloom in my heart, in my skin. To be so touched by the wild of the world, of one's own soul, kestrel-bright: that is grace, that is holiness.

May we all wander, in our mornings or evenings or whatever small sacred times we set aside for ourselves in our busy lives [which today, for me, involved a mildly hysterical madness of self-employment tax forms, which I've never filled out before and which I must say I was in a bit of denial about ACTUALLY having to do until this morning, when I overturned the house looking for the necessary documents which I of course had put nowhere useful whatsoever-- the trunk of the car, a basket in a box under papers, you get the idea....] through the seed markets of the wild soul. One forget-me-not seed, bristled, in the palm, is the miracle of the whole world, and we all do have a kestrel that will come to our shoulders, if we are ready to call her.


  1. I've not read that particular Rumi poem before... so beautiful, and yes, so much mystery, so many ways one might think about it. Some questions answered, more to ponder. Thanks for this :)

  2. Rumi is wisely bewitching and instructing me at every turn these days. Seeds are indeed miraculous, and what isn't, when you come right down to it? Thank you for showing us your particular journey into that today, and sharing more beauty.

  3. A lovely and wise reminder. A beautiful - and for me new - poem.
    I've just ordered your Gray Fox Epistle. Feeling a strong need for more beauty and magic right now.
    Many, many thanks.

  4. I love this post.
    I too read a morning poem - these few days it's Whitman's Song of Myself - he's a seed kind of guy too.