Dormant Seeds

May 30, 2024 | Heath farm | 7 comments

As surely as a seed will grow when planted in the ground, God’s Word, as surely, makes us know: In Christ we’re homeward bound.

Our confidence before God’s throne is fruit of His Great Word. This gift was sown, to grow and thrive, the moment we first heard.

More certain than an earthly plant, the heav’nly seed matures. We know not how and only see the growth when it occurs.

God’s Kingdom likewise night and day, grows ever more by grace; by His own means, in His own way, in His own time and place.

We scatter seeds proclaiming Christ; His cross and empty grave. As surely as our Lord’s alive these Gospel seeds will save.

Hymn: As Surely As A Seed Will Grow

Text: Charles Burhop 2000

Tune: L.R. Payton 2000

The past two months would have usually found me in a flurry of homesteading activity. As soon as Lent and Easter Sunday were over, I would have been hatching out ducklings, milking goats, potting up tomato seedlings, eagerly weeding the veg patches to keep the earliest spring weeds at bay, and facing each day with general spring-time gusto. It would have been an especially good spring to get an early start on the tomatoes because it has been unseasonably warm; we set a new highest temp record today. Yay?

Instead of all that new life and joy, I have drifted along in a shroud of sorrow. On the afternoon of March 29, Good Friday, my children found our ten year old son Roman laying unresponsive on his favorite corner of the couch. My husband dashed to his side to start CPR while I ran to call 911. The tears poured out as I told the operator our address and the situation, trying desperately to not notice the color of Roman’s toes. Emergency responders were at our home within moments, my husband had only reached the count of 10 with chest compressions by the time the first person took over. He was rushed to the nearest hospital with Timm in the ambulance with him. Despite everyone’s best efforts, Roman did not revive; he died on Good Friday.

Less than 48 hours later my husband, having hardly slept since that awful night, preached the most incredible sermon on Easter Sunday and I joined in with the congregation responding to “Christ is risen!” with “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” though my breath came in a short, shallow rhythm. The next few days were a blur of funeral plans, extended family arriving, friends dropping off meals, and then the day of the funeral arrived. Roman was buried in Aunt Cathy’s (our church aunt) family plot. The casket was lowered all the way down to the bottom of the hole for the committal. I never realized how deep a grave is. We scattered soil across the top of his casket and I numbly noticed the daffodils and hyacinth blooming around the base of many tombstones. I made a mental note to plant some bulbs around Roman’s tombstone once it is set up. That was the extent of my gardening plans for this spring.

A couple days ago, following a rainstorm, I noticed with surprise that the weeds were knee-high in the garden. When did that happen? How had time kept moving forward, the sun starting to warm the days, the light getting brighter, when everything should be still, suspended, stagnant? I was ready to let the weeds have their way in the garden and not bother pulling them, but I noticed the jaunty colors of my favorite geum blooming deep beneath the canopy of unwanted grasses. It wouldn’t take long to at least clear out around the geum, so I slowly began to pull grass stems. Gradually the momentum built and I was yanking out handfuls of weeds and tossing them onto the driveway. A peppery smell caught my attention and I stopped to the find the source. Underneath the grass there was a bed of arugula seedlings. I slowed my progress and paid attention. Here was cilantro. Here was fennel. This was definitely tiny red Russian kale, my favorite. There were flowers too. Sweet alyssum, larkspur, cosmos, all quietly growing on their own without any help from me.

As my mind was brought into focus, my thoughts, which had been a tumult of nothingness for weeks, began to clear and I found myself humming a familiar hymn, As Surely As A Seed Will Grow. My dad wrote the tune back in 2000 and I wish it was a familiar hymn for everyone in the LCMS. The lyrics and the tune are truly beautiful. I began to think about seeds, dormant seeds specifically, and how God works by His own means, in His own way, in His own time and place. The new shoots of edible greens were either self sown last year by plants I let go to seed, or the seeds have been dormant for a couple years waiting for the right conditions. We did not have any cosmos in the garden last year, but they are here this year. They are my nine year old daughter’s favorite flower.

God used a time of overabundance in the past, when I did not need to harvest all the kale; or a time of overwhelm, when I just could not stay on top of all the arugula and a few plants slipped past my notice and went to seed, to scatter seeds which would lay dormant until a season in my life where they would grow and I would be the dormant one. Not lifeless, not hopeless, not despairing, but also not super productive, not showing much external growth, not blossoming.

I thought about Roman’s life. About how his body is planted in the ground, but he is home, not homeward bound like you and me, but actually home. I have been able to walk into church every Sunday without resentment, fear, or anger at God. My confidence in God’s Great Word is a gift that was sown, to grow and thrive, since the moment I first heard the Gospel. And that confidence has taken the form of trust. Trust that God is good. Trust that God sometimes gives severe mercies. Trust that Roman, who lived a life with significant medical conditions and physical challenges, is with Jesus and will be made whole with a complete body on the day of resurrection. Trust that God’s kingdom grows ever more by grace.

I thought about the sower who went out to sow his seed and how he recklessly tossed seeds everywhere, not seeming to notice that clearly there were good places to sow and that it would make sense to not waste the seed and only sow in the best spots. I thought about the rocky soil and the shallow roots and the birds swooping in. I thought about God’s abundance and about dormant seeds. I thought about people who I love dearly whose faith is dormant, whose lives seems to be rocky soil. I thought about God’s severe mercies and His abundance, about how a dormant seed could lodge under a rock, away from the beaks of birds, deprived of water and sun, not growing, but not dead. I thought about seeds (or faith) being dormant until the soil shifted to be the right condition for that particular seed. I thought about gardens and soil. You improve soil with decaying matter. It is death that gives rocky soil a chance to become fertile soil. I thought about Jesus’ death and resurrection and about the final verse of the hymn. “We scatter seed proclaiming Christ; His cross and empty grave. As surely as our Lord’s alive these Gospel seeds will save.”

I did not finish weeding that garden bed, but the geum is now clearly visible. I am glad I took the time to pull some weeds, hum a hymn, think about dormant seeds, and pray for God to work on the rocky soil.


  1. Katie


  2. Lori Payton

    That is incredibly True and Beautiful, and you have expressed it in lovely, Grace-filled words. I echo your prayers with a continual AMEN, as I continue to pray for comfort and strength and heart-healing for you, and all of us. Love and cherish you forever, my amazing Hannah Grace.

  3. Sue Donaldson

    Beautifully said. And with such hope. Especially for those we love and pray for on such rocky soil.

  4. Anne Moore

    This article looked long when I first saw it, so I intended to speed read and catch the gist. I discovered right away that each paragraph drew me in with eloquence, faith, beauty…sadness and joy mingled as weeds and sprouts. It is a deeply moving…and encouraging…homily. Thank you Hannah, for sharing insights from your heart and from the dirt.

  5. Lynnel Lein, Auntie

    Oh Hannah. What rich words. So thankful you wrote to relieve grief and spread more seeds.
    God is so very good. So glad that Roman is running and leaping in Heaven with Him.

  6. Suzanne Kelley

    Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.


    Hannah, what a blessing there is in the Word as manifested in this season and the next. Grief draws us closer to God. We bare our grief unto Jesus who alone knows the depth of our sorrow. Yes, God springs us up to life even in the midst of mourning the death of a beloved for He is Life. Like Mary to whom the Gardener revealed Himself alive, Life springs anew in the garden. What a blessing that is!


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