The Parable of the Mustard Seed

“Against you, I have great legions arrayed.
Your brothers even call out for your death;
yet you smile and do not waste your breath
with pleading, or seem in the least dismayed.

I hold the power to end your short life
Here in my hands, yet you refuse to speak
a word of self-defense and like a freak
just stand there, stretched neck poised against the knife!

What is this strength of spirit you possess
that gives you peace in this, your time of need?
You are just flesh and bone, you bruise and bleed.
Do I not speak the truth? I must confess

I do not understand your plan, or stance —
please, if you wish to live, this is your chance.”

“Of power and might what is it you know?
Can you bring a new life into the world
while grasping at truth, your hands tightly curled
into a fist? That kind of strength won’t grow,

but fades and withers with time. As the wind
comes down across the desert and will eat
both solid iron and soft flesh, it defeats
and crushes greater foes. Look, you will find

there is one source of strength here on this earth.
It fuels all things and does not subdivide;
how it is finds use or form is not decided
by you or I, who cannot judge its worth

nor guess from what dark place it manifests,
despite our measurements or endless tests.

The whole we see and know is our small part;
outside that range lie strange and useless powers.
What good to men the grace that blooms in flowers,
or the great force that keeps the stars apart?

What you believe is there within your reach
is shared with every other thing that lives;
and what allows your breath, may also give
its form to each grain of sand on the beach.

And like that speck of dust tossed in the sea
is the small portion of strength in our flock,
yet it may a move a mass of solid rock,
once you become the rock, quite easily.

For more than this I do not ask, or need.
Can such a tree grow from your mustard seed?

16 AUG 2003

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