Planting the Seeds of Listening

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I recently read Manifestos on the Future of Food and Seed, edited by Vandana Shiva. The wisdom and knowledge of a wide ranging group of individuals contributed their attention and care to the creation of these manifestos that call for us to wake up to the importance of food and seed in our lives. I recommend this little book. And I quote from it:

Seeds are a gift of nature, past generations, and diverse cultures. It is our inherent duty and responsibility to protect and to pass seeds on to future generations. Seeds are the first link in the food chain, the embodiment of biological and cultural diversity, and the repository of life’s future evolution.

Seeds are the condensed energy and possibility of the new life. Seeds need to be gathered, saved, and planted. This past year I planted Calendula seeds in my garden and watched as these brilliant plants sprouted and rooted and leafed out and finally came into great orange blossom. The color wove into my life. I let the blooms float in my jar of drinking water. I added the petals to my salads. I hung the flowers in my kitchen and infused them in oils (which I later made into skin salves). And then a great many of the flowers I watched drop their petals and form into beautiful strange seed pods. I let these dry on the plant and then I harvested hundred and hundreds of seeds. It was my first time harvesting and saving seed. I felt my relationship to the life around me deepen, joy came in great days of late summer stored inside the little prehistoric looking seed. I put the seeds in little envelopes and gave them to all my friends. And now, spring is here and I’ll plant the seeds I saved and see what comes, what orange awaits me in my life.

For the next few weeks I will write about planting the seeds of listening through the practice of inquiry. Inquiry is the art of being present with our questions, planting these questions deeply in our soil and making space for them to germinate and grow. There are as many questions as there are seeds, but to begin I start with three old questions that have been unlocking the energy and possibility of people for millennia: Where am I? What am I? And my very favorite, what is most important? I will start with this one, because until we begin to clarify what is most important, we may as well not bother risking our lives on the other two questions.

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