I went to a funeral yesterday of a friend who had spent most of his too-short life campaigning on environmental and other issues. It seemed a cold, bleak moment as we stood by the graveside on the snow-covered ground. But then, something amazing happened. Brightly coloured bio-degradable balloons we handed around. We learned that each had been filled with a few wildflower seeds before they had been inflated. After a few words and a moment’s silence, all the balloons were released simultaneously into the winter sky. It was a beautiful moment as we all stood, each wrapped in our own thoughts, watching the balloons floating away.
I was profoundly struck by this. As always at such events, one is sharply reminded of the mortality that we all share and of how much for granted we take vitality. It also offered an opportunity to re-assess priorities and goals. Even in his last act, this deeply committed individual was striving to bring about change. The wildflower seeds were of course a quite literal interpretation of the parable of the seed sowing – those which fall on fertile ground would grow. But they were also a wonderful metaphor. Sometimes the best way to bring about change is not grand gestures, but small acts. We never know what effect each small act of change may be. A letter here or an email there; a name on a petition, a face at a meeting: some of these will fall on stony ground, but others may take root.