The Power of a Seed

I suggest you view this painting as large as you can. The detail is amazing! My friend and co-worker, Rollie, made me aware of this painting—and I love it. Thanks Rollie. Frederick Edwin Church (1826-1900) was known as a great landscape painter and was a part of the Hudson River School (an art movement embodied by a group of landscape painters). This painting is quite large (approx. 5.5 x 10 feet).

Church lived in New York but traveled to South America searching new landscapes to paint. This painting does not depict a specific place but the snow-capped Mount Chimborazo in the background sets this imaginary scene in Ecuador. Notice the small cross in the midst of the vegetation. A gravesite visited by some family or friends? Even with all that is going on in the scenery, the cross is quite noticeable. Again, the level of detail is spectacular.

This work caused a sensation when it was unveiled. More than 12,000 people paid twenty-five cents to file by it. It became a favorite of the great American writer, Mark Twain, who said, “[Heart of the Andes] is in my mind now, and the smallest feature could not be removed without my detecting it.” The painting sold for $10,000 which at that time was the highest price ever paid for a work by a living American artist. It now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Anyone up for a road trip?

The detailed display of plants and flowers inspires me. I have been spending a lot of time in my backyard tending to my potted flowers. I am afraid I went a little overboard this year and have no less than 25 potted plants, and the number keeps growing (no pun intended). I can’t help myself. Isn’t it amazing what can come from a tiny little seed?

Jesus reminds us of the power of a little underwhelming seed. He tells us that the Kingdom of God works like a seed—gently, slowly, breaking through ground. Earthly kingdoms break the ground too, but like a bulldozer—through coercion and force. Sometimes we expect the Kingdom of God to be like a bulldozer. We want to see progress that is earth-shattering and immediate. God’s Word is more organic and tender.

A seed does not only change a garden bed, but it can also change an entire landscape. The Kingdom of God enters one’s hearts, and at first, it may seem to make no difference at all. But as one ponders, considers, and wrestles with it, things begin to stir. And after a while, this little seed of Truth has the potential to transform our landscape and change the world.

Being Human connection: All the greenery in Church’s painting came from seeds. Never underestimate their power.

Featured Art: Frederic Edwin Church, Heart of the Andes, 1859, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

[Jesus] also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade” (Mark 4:33-34).