Midweek Faith Lift
June 1, 2022
The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds
Aka “Now What?”
Rev. Deb Hill-Davis
Spiritual Passages Daily Reflection
May 12, 2022
African entrepreneur Fred Swaniker is passionate about helping young people of Africa fulfill their talent, so he founded the African Leadership Academy. “Where expectations are low, mediocrity thrives. But we must not simply set higher expectations. We must redefine our expectations entirely, recognizing that the opportunities and possibilities in Africa are limited only by our own imagination and commitment.”
“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the truth of Imagination.” – John Keats
Affirmative prayer: Today, I set my imagination loose, giving the creative Spirit within me full reign so that my expectations are unencumbered and my commitment is strengthened. I give thanks for the holy work of impassioned visionaries who inspire and support others in fulfilling their highest good. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.
What a powerful affirmation and investment in the young people of Africa and what an example of faith in action this is! And I love the statement “Where expectations are low, mediocrity thrives. But we must not simply set higher expectations …” That is a powerful recognition of the message of the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, or what I like to call “The Wheat and the Weeds!” Recognizing the difference between “weed thoughts and seed thoughts” is a lifelong process and the key to clarity about how we are “limited only by our own imagination and commitment.” Dr. Michael subtitles this chapter, Managing the Subconscious Mind.” I like to think of it as, “Now what?”
This parable is found in Matthew 13:24-30 and it reads like this.
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- Updated Edition)
When I first read this many years ago in an SEE class on parables with Laura Barrett Bennett at Unity Village, I could not get my head around it! I live in Iowa, and no self-respecting farmer lets the weeds grow along with the crop. Not even a little bit! No, we dump huge amounts of chemicals to get rid of those weeds, but that is NOT what Jesus is saying to do here, not at all. No, he says let the wheat and the weeds grow together so at the time of harvest we can tell what is weed and what is wheat.
But lest we lapse into judgmental space about the farmers, first pause and reflect that there are some, if not many in New Thought who believe it is possible to become so spiritual as to not ever have another negative thought. We want to dump huge amounts of “affirmations” on our negative thoughts to eradicate them, don’t we? There was even a book in circulation years ago, You Can’t Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought.” Wow, negative thoughts as a luxury, not so much. They just are there, kind of like mosquitoes and flies. Not pleasant, but part of life. I get lots of offers to attend seminars that promise a “stress-free” life, a stress-free consciousness, if you will. Good luck with that! My reality is much more like, “Now what?”
What the Master is telling us in this parable is that all thoughts are present in our conscious and subconscious mind. We have formed positive, uplifting, spiritually evolved thoughts and ideas. And while we are sleeping, or unaware, in our subconscious, the weed thoughts also spring up and take root and grow right along with our highest and best seed thoughts. In the parable, it states that during the time of sleeping “an enemy” came and sowed the weeds and then went away. Well, we have met the “enemy” and it is us! Our conscious and subconscious mind holds ALL thoughts, both weed and seed and that is just how we are made. Jesus is teaching us to recognize that is just how it is, don’t fight with that reality.
When the servants ask the householder if they should try to pull up the weeds, his response is to say, no, because you might also pull up the wheat in the process. That is good advice from the Master! Trying to “pull up all the weed thoughts” is futile and pointless. If you focus on them, trying to get rid of them, it is giving them even more power, as if you believe they are true, they are the ultimate reality. It is interesting to note that very small wheat sprouts are very hard to distinguish from weeds, and in fact you would pull up the wheat if you actually tried to do this. What Jesus is telling us is to let them grow together, trusting that in the fullness of time, we will be able to discern which are weed thoughts and which are seed thoughts.
At the time of harvesting, we will know the difference and be able to respond appropriately. That is a powerful teaching because it so clearly states that it requires true spiritual maturity to discern the difference between the weeds and the wheat. More importantly, we need the weeds to be there so that we can learn to recognize the difference. When things are too easy and there are no challenges, we miss a significant opportunity to experience spiritual, emotional and mental growth. We sometimes have to feel choked off by weeds to find our strength, our resilience and grow past the limiting beliefs that we are holding.
Dr. Michael notes that it is truly impossible to completely rid our subconscious of undesirable thought forms. He says, in The Hidden Parables, p. 79:
….this is an impossible task as well. Like a field with millions of seedlings, our subconscious is packed with millions upon millions of memories and impressions and ideas. Trying to go through this field of the subconscious in an attempt to identify and destroy only the undesirable thought form is futile.
So where does that leave us in this maturing, or learning process? What does Jesus tell us to do in this parable? Dr. Michael’s understanding is that we are told to work with our “servants” rather than fight with our negative, weed thoughts or shortcomings! Great idea!
That is also what the entrepreneur in the opening story about youth in Africa also recommends. He acknowledges that the youth may have limiting beliefs and he calls on both the power of imagination and the power of strength, which supports commitment for them to move into a new consciousness. Jesus recommends that we do the same thing. We call upon our servants, that which truly serves us to realize our higher good. For us, these are our 12 Spiritual powers, which are the source of our wisdom and guidance. When we are connected to these powers of faith, imagination, judgment, release, understanding, strength, power, wisdom, life, love, and zeal we know clearly what to keep in the barn of our consciousness and what to burn away.
I have been personally going through this process in a very literal way in weeding out my closet. I have been very transparent about my journey with weight issues and I must confess that I have held on to clothes that don’t fit anymore because they are too small. Chocolate shrinks my clothes! One of the gifts of recognizing my weed thoughts and the negative pattern of punishing myself by trying on again and again what no longer fits has been to get rid of those items and that practice. Someone else can make use of them and I can and DO chose to let go of the pattern of “clothes shaming” by trying on what I KNOW will not fit and then feeling terrible about myself. I thought it was motivating, but turns out that was a weed though! Talk about a weed thought/seed thought process. I have NO idea how that might impact my actual weight, but it has done wonders for my attitude toward my body and learning to love it no matter what!
What Jesus is teaching us in this amazing parable is that our weed thoughts are just there, as part of our being human and we might as well get used to the fact of our humanity. What we can do is identify these thoughts once they have germinated and then truly grow curious about what they have to teach us. Even more powerful is the truth that in our harvest process, it is by the power of contrast that we begin to truly recognize what is a weed thought and what is a seed thought. Letting go of what no longer serves us becomes an empowering process, not an admission of shame, fault or guilt or imperfection. We allow the Power and Presence of Spirit within us to shine the light of our true perfection, and like the youth of Africa, we pursue our dreams with unlimited enthusiasm! May it be so!
Blessings on the Path,