Tag Archive | Jesus

The Message of Two Cornstalks

Abbey posing with our two cornstalks

This morning as Mim and I were walking Abbey I asked Mim if she had any ideas for me to write about in today’s blog. She responded, “How about the two cornstalks growing next to the road at Whispering Winds? Remember Jesus talked about seeds that fell on good ground.”

It’s actually been kind of fun watching those two stalks of corn grow this year on the edge of the lawn, right along the roadside. Last winter the snowplow scraped the edge of the lawn as it barreled along Highland Road. A few chunks of sod were torn out of the lawn. We added some soil and sowed some grass seed over the damaged area in the spring, but as dry as the spring and summer was, the seed never germinated. Last year there was a cornfield across the road. (This year it’s soybeans.) Somehow a couple kernels of corn found their way onto our patch of open soil that had been unwelcoming of the grass seed. The corn sprouted easily, and two proud stalks of corn have been growing all season. Mim decided to mow around them to honor their persistence. Despite the drought in our area of Wisconsin, these two plants of field corn have done fairly well. The wildlife (raccoon, probably) have enjoyed a good harvest.

So what did Jesus say about seeds? In Matthew 13:1-9 (New Revised Standard Version):

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying, “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on the rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

Jesus’ disciples asked him what he meant by this story. Apparently, it wasn’t just about growing corn to feed the raccoon family. In verse 23, Jesus explained, “But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit…”

So, what is God trying to tell us by having two cornstalks grow on the good soil on the edge of our lawn at Whispering Winds? Perhaps, it’s as simple as “Take time to smile at the little miracles we see all around us.” Or maybe, to some people driving by, the message is “Bloom where you are planted.”  Or to others, it’s “See. God really watches out for the needs of her creatures, even the raccoon.”

Owning My Name

MARIAN KORTH
Kindergarten picture

My name is Marian. I never had a nickname. That’s too bad, because I never liked my name. I first struggled with my name in kindergarten, as I described in my blog a couple weeks ago. My teacher, Miss Polly, tried to spell it with an “o” instead of an “a” and I knew she was wrong.  I survived the school system and I learned to live with my name, even if I didn’t like it. I sometimes wonder why my Mom and Dad gave me that name.

ELSIE the Cow

My Mom didn’t like her name either. Her first name was Elsie. Sometimes my friends and I teased her about being “Elsie, the cow” which was the marketing icon for Borden’s milk in the 1950’s. Mom didn’t like being called “Elsie,” but she hated her middle name, “Thelma May,” even more. Whenever she had to write her full name she used her first name, her maiden name, and her last name in order to avoid using her middle name. I don’t think I ever saw her first, middle, and last name in writing. That was a problem. It’s a long story, but I’ll give the short version here.

When my Mom was nearing the end of her life, she and my Dad came to Chicago to live with Mim and me so that we could take care of her. They lived with us for her last 6 weeks. When she died, we called a local funeral home to pick up her body and process the legal paperwork. The Cambridge funeral home then came to get her body and coordinated the visitation, funeral, and other final arrangements in Cambridge.

The man who came from the Chicago funeral home had to fill out all the legal paperwork. He asked me the questions and he wrote my answers on the form. Then he gave the form to me to review. I noticed that he had written my Mom’s middle name as “Thelma Mae” – with an “e” rather than a “y.” I thought about that a little, and tried to remember if I had ever seen her middle name written. I don’t think I had. So, I didn’t know if it ended with a “y” or an “e.” I decided not to change what he’d written on the form since I didn’t really know which spelling was correct. That’s unfortunate. The person who typed the official death certificate from this form changed “Elsie Thelma Mae Korth” to “Elsie Thelma MacKorth.” That’s the name that was officially filed with the State of Illinois Records Bureau in Springfield. What was involved in getting her name corrected (necessary to settle her estate) is a very long story for another day.

Names really are important, whether we like them, or not. In the women’s worship service in the county jail the chaplain instructs us to pray for the person on our right by name. If we don’t know the person’s name, we need to ask her before the prayer time begins. We pray for each other by going around the circle, each person praying for the person on her right. I’ll attest to the fact that when I hear the inmate on my left praying for me by name, her prayer resonates deeply within me. Then I have the honor of praying by name for the inmate sitting on my right. She can experience that same feeling of being blessed, of receiving a special blessing just for her. And so on around the circle, we all are blessed.

Using someone’s name is powerful. When someone calls me by name I assume that they know me, because they know my name. In the New Testament, Jesus is often described as “the good shepherd” who calls his sheep by name. In the Old Testament, God called Abraham, Moses, Samuel, and others – all by name. Even though I don’t particularly like the name, “Marian,” I think I’ll stick with it. That’s what all my friends, and even God, know me by.