Story, Value, and Becoming More Real
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If All Prayer is Seed

April 18, 2024

Bethany Colas

I made my way to the Gloucester Road tube station with a printed copy of my poem tucked into my journal and my journal tucked securely in my tote bag. Picking the emptiest train car I could find (which was not hard to do at eight am on a Saturday morning), I boarded the Circle line, transferred to the Central line and scanned the map for the White City station—three stops to go.

I was still fairly new to London, having moved there with my family six months prior, and I had been pleasantly surprised to discover a group of Christian artists in the UK gathering online and sometimes in person to encourage one another in their creative lives.

For the past few years, I had been trying to develop some semblance of a writing life, but it felt like a lonely endeavor amidst motherhood and the semi-nomadic life of a military family. What I really longed for was community, so when I saw a call for participants to join the group’s collaborative Pass the Piece project, I was quick to sign up. I had heard of the idea—participants preparing a piece of art, passing it on to their assigned partner, receiving a piece from someone else, and creating something in response. I was looking forward to working with other artists and God, in his kindness, gave me yet another pleasant surprise when I found out one of my Pass the Piece partners also lived in London.

 Chloe and I chatted a bit about our collaboration through email and then decided to meet up in person. So there I was, stepping out of the White City tube station, scanning the sidewalk for a glimpse of my new fellow-artist friend, and there was Chloe, parking her bicycle and greeting me with a warmth that made me feel like we’d already long been friends.

We walked to a coffee shop across the street, bright and airy and nearly empty, given the time of day, and sat across from each other with our respective warm beverages in hand. We talked about art and motherhood and poetry, life in London and life in ministry, and, eventually, we got around to talking about my poem. Chloe asked me thoughtful and insightful questions and shared some of her initial thoughts about her response piece.

A few weeks later over Zoom, I shared my poem with the group and Chloe shared the piece she’d created in response. She held up to the screen a watercolor painting of a tulip bulb, dirt clinging to its delicate roots, with a tender shoot just beginning to grow. The painting itself was stunning, but equally stunning to me was the way Chloe had managed to capture everything I was trying to say, the undercurrent of feeling I was trying to communicate in the poem—the tentativeness of prayer, the fearfulness of planting seeds you are not sure you’ll see flower, and the vulnerability of hope.

Afterwards, Chloe generously sent me the piece and my husband kindly had it framed—the beautiful fruit of our collaboration and a tangible reminder of God’s grace in seasons of change.

That was two years ago. My family and I recently moved back to the States, Chloe and I have remained friends, and we have both become part of the Cultivating fellowship of artists—another beautiful community of creatives. As I was thinking about grace, the theme for this edition, and the ways we are starting over as a family and building community again, I remembered my poem and Chloe’s painting—the small seeds of our collaboration and the beauty that came from them. I knew they were worth sharing, but I also knew that on a practical level, I would need to find someone to take a high-resolution image of Chloe’s painting to do so. I tried inquiring at church, thought for a brief second about paying a professional photographer, and then remembered our next-door neighbors with the telltale signs of their avid birding hobby—the very large, very fancy cameras they had slung over their shoulders when they introduced themselves to us after we moved in.

 I don’t often sense a strong and specific prompting from God, but I felt Him encouraging me to knock on their door, to just see if they might be able to help. I didn’t want to, but my desire to do justice to Chloe’s beautiful handiwork won out, and I’m so glad it did. Henry met my knock, and when I explained my errand, he gave me an enthusiastic yes. We chatted, I brought over the painting, they returned it with a memory stick, I returned the memory stick with a thank you note, they offered to help snow blow our driveway, and we plan to bake them cookies. And so it goes—our collaboration bearing the fruit of friendship and yielding small seeds of grace to begin again. 

If all prayer is seed

I fling mine to a sky

slipping into night,

amidst the song

of summer’s end

where they ride

the quiet tide

of slow-thrumming

grasshoppers languid

in the cooling air;

fingers crossed

they’ll land in a yard

where little hands

will carry cups of water

dripping from the sink

in tender hope of growing

a new and living thing.


Others carry theirs

over oceans

with trembling fingers

to tuck them between

limestone bricks,

the ruins of a place

where God once lived,

trusting someone will come

to collect them

and bury them in the garden

where vines grow grapes

born to be pressed

into rich wine reserved

for the lips of saints

who breathe:

this is your blood

shed for me.


A grandma somewhere

plants hers among tulips,

knees aching

with the weight of a heart

bent on sowing seeds

that look like onions;

she tucks them in

the dirt, covers up

their bald heads,

a little sleep, a little slumber,

a little folding of the hands

to rest; she knows,

come spring,

the dark gives way

to light, tulips rise,

and sparrows sing.

The featured artwork, “Dark gives way to light,” is courtesy of Chloe Roberts and is used with her kind permission for Cultivating.


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