The Wheat & the Weeds


Midweek Faith Lift

October 23, 2019

The Parable of the Wheat & the Weeds

Rev. Deb Hill-Davis


And so we begin….

Matthew 13:24-30 

The Parable of Weeds among the Wheat


24 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” (NRSV)


I first heard this parable in a CEP class on the Parables with Rev. Laura Barrett Bennett at Unity Village.  Long ago, in a faraway time, the classes for Licensed Unity Teacher were called CEP-Continuing Education Program and all classes were offered at Unity Village, so that’s where I went!  And on the first day, this was the first parable we did!  And I couldn’t believe what I was reading and hearing!  Now I grew up Catholic and we didn’t really read the Bible, we read catechism, so I didn’t know about the parables.  And then I heard this one, which said, “Let the wheat and the weeds grow together!”  My reaction was to say, ‘Oh NO!  I’m from Iowa and no self-respecting Iowa farmer would ever just let weeds grow among the crop.  No way….we dump tons of chemical herbicides on those pesky weeds!’  My teacher was amused!  And patient!


Since then I have used this parable for at least three different talks, and it always surprises me how each time, there is some new message to harvest for me.  If as Rev. Laura said, a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning, then what that means is that each time I hear this story, I am in a different place in my earthly journey, a different place in time and consciousness.  Let’ hope so, right?!?!


So let’s take a deeper dive into this wheat and weeds story, shall we?  It begins with “the Kingdom of Heaven is like,” which is how Jesus starts the story when he wants his listeners to understand that what he is saying is about consciousness.  Substitute “A heavenly consciousness is like, or a God- Consciousness is like, or your Christ consciousness is like and then keep on going.  This parable is about your Christ consciousness, so listen up! 


And then the very next line tells what happens to your consciousness—well you are unconscious!  You have sown seeds of positive thought and then, you fall asleep!  You go unconscious.  Now look what happens when you are unconscious or unaware…an “enemy” came in to your field of dreams and planted all kinds of weed thoughts!  Well, how dare he?  And who let him or her do that?   And how did that happen!?!?!?  I thought only good thoughts, or so I thought I thought…..what was I thinking?  Confusing, eh?


What is this, that in the midst of my positive thoughts, all this crap appears!  In the midst of my quest for spiritual maturity, all this petty emotion and resentment appears.  Or maybe my weed thought is one of superiority….at least I am enlightened enough to not think that…fill in the blank!   I am not prejudiced, biased, misogyinist, racist, hateful, judgmental, smug, superior, righteous, or evil!  It’s them!  I know there is an enemy there! 


Where did that come from?  Ok, who did this?  That is the question they ask, the question we ask.  Who is my enemy, the one who planted all these awful ideas???  My parents, my siblings, my teachers, my boss?? Or to be more contemporary, the religious right, the alt right, the white supremacist, the politically correct police, the never vaccinators, the on and on an on it goes!  I want to know where all this yuck came from and then just get rid of it!  Right, let’s just get rid of all this stuff, it is awful! 


And then the message is, not so fast!  Let the wheat and the weeds grow together so that at the time of the harvest, you will know what is wheat and what is weed.  Let my weed thoughts and my seed thoughts grow together? Could it be that you are the enemy, your own worst enemy?  Could it be that the thoughts you hold are weed thoughts choking off your own emotional and spiritual growth?  Could it be that our whole country is caught in that kind of thinking right now?  Full of weed thoughts that seem to be choking out and seeds of hope, of unity, of love?


Last weekend I attended a truly wonderful retreat lead by a Unitarian minister, Rev. Karen Hering, titled “Belonging to Your Longings in Troubled Times.  It was a wonderful journey through understanding the meaning and process of longing and how longing brings us home to ourselves.  But that journey is not easy, because there are so many beliefs, ideas and thoughts that keep us from claiming our longings that would pull us forward, out of the weeds.  One of the first things we did is state a question that helped us express our longings.  My question was, “How do we find our way back to each other?”  That question felt like a seed thought to me.


During one session Karen shared with us an Atlas of Experience some of which is on the screen.  It has all four seasons of our lives with all of life’s experiences, which was quite extensive.  It included such things as “Mountains of Work” and a very tiny island of Clarity in a Sea of Possibility!  I took photos of the map and have printed them and they are in the Power Point today.  In the middle of Autumn is a city called Change with a suburb of Evolution and incredible mountains before getting to Winter!   There are also Swamps of Boredom in the Autumn and a city called Chaos on the other side of the Mountains between Autumn and Winter.  You begin to get the idea!  It was a really revealing exercise because we were then asked to draw our own Map to reflect where we are with our longing.


And this is my map:  With two central silos one which says, “I’m right and you’re not!”  And the other one says, “No, I’m right and you’re not!”  There is an impassable road between them with a “Bridge Too Far” connecting them.  It is also a Bridge of Listening and A Path of Forgiveness.  There is a lot of heat coming from one of the Silos and a static barrier protecting the other one.  It is a road from Nowhere to Now Here, and it is not clear where that is.  Letting that be ok is like letting the wheat and the weeds grow together.  How do we find a way through this dense chaos?  How can we be ok with letting all the weeds and wheat grow together? 


That is where we are sitting right now, in the field with the weeds and trusting that the wheat will grow just as strongly and be just as visible as the weeds.  Remember, in this time of growing, we don’t really always know what is a weed thought and what is a seed thought, right?  For what are we longing?  It is question that bears asking and repeating multiple times so that we can begin to identify our longings and claim them.  They won’t be fulfilled, but our longings point us in the direction of our hearts, of connection and love, of coming home.


On Sunday morning, before we departed, we did another powerful exercise.  The premise of this exercise came from the Hebrew Scripture story of Moses parting the Red Sea so that the Israelites could escape from the bondage of the Egyptians who were chasing them and trying to recapture them.  Think of those “enemy thoughts” that keep chasing you and trying to capture your thinking.  The midrash, or commonly told story or parable about this is that the Israelites were all bunched up on one side of the Red Sea, with no one wanting to go first because, well you might drown!  And then some brave soul stepped into the water up to his neck and then the sea began to part as the rest of them followed!


Oh, I see, that’s how it is!  I take the first step and then the weeds begin to fall away!  I take the first step, and more is revealed.  She then told us another story about caterpillars who follow each other to a food source.  If you put them in a cylinder, they just go around in circles, for days.  When a branch is put over the top of the cylinder, they begin to move out.  We are like those caterpillars, stuck in our silos, telling ourselves, well this is how it is right now, and there is no way out!  Where is a branch, a leaf, something that helps us come up higher?


Well it was now time for the harvest, to separate the wheat and the weeds.  Our first assignment was to use the sentence starter, “It’s just the way things are right now …..and fill up this yellow page.  Then in order to harvest the wheat or seed thoughts, we cut it in half and glued each half to the edge of another sheet.  In the center was our parting of the Red Sea.  Our writing prompt was “If I take the first step…” and we were to look at what was on the yellow page and just circle words.  Then we were to use those words to write “If I take the first step…”  We don’t have to know what every step is, we just have to take the next right step and then we will know what is the wheat and what are the weeds. 


And we gather the wheat thoughts into the barn of our consciousness, and we burn the rest so that we do not give our energy to what is a weed.  May it be so.


Blessings on the Path,

Rev. Deb