Just One

Seed. It just takes one.

As a blustery wind threatens to blow down my house, both literally and metaphorically, this spring evening, I am reminded of the drive down South to my  cousin’s funeral. In that moment when the highway is surrounded by pine trees on every side, I know we’re getting down into Dixie country. And it was in that moment last Tuesday, that I wanted to grasp onto every passing branch, to slow the car’s momentum, to cling and claw and pull against what I would have to face when arriving at my aunt’s house in South Carolina. But there was no slowing the momentum. There’s just no imagining someone back to life or skipping over that part when you have to face the parents or the spouse or whomever is going to sock you in the gut the hardest.

So we went, my husband, five-year-old son, and I. What could we do but greet the moment as best we could?

And in the rise and fall of the tide since then, I keep feeling this one seed in my pocket. If nothing else, it’s a prayer for a new season to take root after the wind storms have their way with us.

It only takes one, after all. Just one small seed of change or of growth, one tiny change in the temperature, one small adjustment of attitude, and suddenly, the geese are flying on a new course, or an entire family’s dynamics are on the mend.

Heading back down South into the thick of family drama, into the mossy tangles of history, often takes some recovery time. Particularly after a funeral – or a family reunion, which can sometimes feel similar. Now that I am older and not protected by the glossy shine of youth, I see the cracks in the family china, the hushed whispers about uncle Albert’s “condition,” feel the enormity of silences between Betty and Jane. It’s inevitable, I suppose, if we are growing, changing beings who are willing to see what is in front of us.

And if we desire to plant those seeds when they’re given to us, we stay awake. We bear witness to the traveling heartbreaks that families seem to pass from one generation to the next. After all, it only takes one seed to make a new tree, to start a new forest. I am holding on tight to mine.

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