The California poppies are bursting into bloom in the garden. Their breathtaking coral color leaps out from the deep, rainy-winter green of the garden background. We did not plant the poppies, they are natives. We could not discourage them if we tried. Each plant springs from a tiny black seed. How tiny? No bigger than a pinhead. You’ve seen them on poppyseed bagels or muffins.
In group one evening we talked about the astounding mystery of seeds. Most of the vegetables we plant for the garden start life as seeds so small that we have to use tweezers to pick them up; our fingers are too big. Even chard seeds, which are gargantuan compared to, say, lettuce or kale seeds, are only about half the size of a pencil eraser. And yet, here is the garden: kale and chard plants two-feet tall, heads of lettuce the size of basketballs, fava beans up to our shoulders. And all the potential for those lusty vegetables lies in the tiny, inert-looking seeds.
In Christian tradition, the saying goes that if we have faith even the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. In Zen we might say, willingness even the size of a poppy seed -- or a lettuce seed, or a fava bean -- contains the full potential for a joyful flowering. Everything begins with just that seed.