First, I'm give a little presentation on seed saving at a seed swap that is being organized by the Franciscans for Earth. I tried to find the online link, but couldn't. Anyway, saving seeds is a sign of hope. In the waning days of autumn, I save veggies, and flower heads and store them away. The when the days get longer and warmer and spring is in the air, I go into my trays and jars of saved seeds. I can plant them, share them with friends, or exchange them for other types of seeds that I didn't save.
Taking apart flower heads, saving the seeds from tomatoes and beans and melons, sorting and labelling them is a long and slow process. I find it to be a contemplative practice. When I do it, I express my confidence that spring will come after a long cold winter. I express my confidence in the resilience of life that trusts its future to these tiny specks of life.
* * *Second, I am giving a workshop next week to a group of leaders of religious communities. I will be talking about the challenges of the coming decades when the numbers will likely continue to decline and averages continue to rise. I'll be talking about the practical choices that they can make to secure their coming years. I will speak to them of the challenge of this time, and also of the privilege to be living this moment in religious life. I will invite them to embrace the truth of this moment in their community's story. A era when funerals outnumber entrances at least twenty to one. I will invite them to face this moment with courage, and with trust in the resilience of religious life, and the goodness of God's plan.
Many religious institutes will come to an end in the next decades. Many of us will mourn their passing, even as we rejoice in the gift they have been in our lives and in our communities. I will invite these leaders to rejoice in the seeds of hope that they have planted: countless children they have taught, sick they have comforted, poor they have offered hope. And their is a small remnant of younger members. We are ready to accept the challenge of living religious life into the future. A future that will be radically different from the present moment of religious life, but one that will do honor to the hundreds of generations of religious that have gone before us, right back to apostolic times.
I rejoice in seeds of hope!