The story of the sower

Spring has me thinking of the story of the sower. The artworks below illustrate the story from a variety of cultural perspectives. For those unfamiliar with the story, the Gospel of Mark retells it like this:

Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

New beginnings

In all cultural traditions, the world over, spring is a time of new beginnings. In the southern hemisphere, however, spring is half a year away from the international festival we know as Easter. So this spring I am going to feature something different: Christian art that celebrates the beginning of the public life of Jesus. To kick things off here is a collage of paintings illusatrating the baptism of Jesus, in the eyes of different cultures.

Celebrating spring with Julian of Norwich

Be a gardener.
Dig a ditch,
toil and sweat,
and turn the earth upside down
and seek the deepness
and water the plants in time.
Continue this labor
and make sweet floods to run
and noble and abundant fruits
to spring.
Take this food and drink
and carry it to God
as your true worship.

A poem by fourteenth century British nun Julian of Norwich

Who can tell me more about the Hindu festival of Holi?

hindu-holi-festival

I was wondering if anyone out there can enlighten me on the significance of the Hindu festival of Holi?

From what I’ve read it seems to be celebrating (a) Krishna’s play with the cow-herding girls, (b) the slaying of the demoness Holika by Prahlad, a devotee of Vishnu, and (c) the arrival of spring. Is it a case that different sects see it in different ways or is it all mixed in together?

It strikes me that there may be some correspondance to the Easter tradition in the west, which is likewise a celebration of spring and the victory of good over evil. Just with brightly coloured eggs instead of brightly coloured powder. Is that plausible?