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The Parable of
THE MUSTARD SEED
One day, as a bird flew back to its nest with a twig in its beak, a tiny seed from the branch fell to the earth, and it so happened that the seed sprouted and grew into an enormous tree. It shot out large branches, so that it was big and tall and wide and grand. Many birds made nests in the branches of the tree and lived happily there. Many other animals lived under the tree in its shade. Still others lived in the tree itself, in the hollow areas of its trunk.
Flit was one of the birds that lived there. Most of his friends and family lived in the same tree, but when it got crowded, some of them moved to a nearby tree.
Sadly, one day, the other tree fell. It was old, and had termites, and its roots had become rotten. All the animals that had lived in the old tree had to find a new home.
“I wish they had a tree like ours”, Flit said.
“That’s a good idea”, said his mother. “We can plant them a new tree like ours.”
“Really?” said Flit, excited.
“It will take some time to grow”, said his mother, “and we can’t plant it too close to our tree, but not too far away, either.”
“I know just the right spot”, said Flit. “There is a patch of dark, moist earth under the shade of our tree, but not too close.”
“That sounds fine”, said his mother. “I can get the seed from our tree, but we will need some help. It has to be planted and cared for properly for it to grow up.”
“My friend the crow knows a lot about planting”, said Flit. “He used to live on a farm. I can ask him for help.”
“Good thinking”, said his mother. “You get it planted properly, and Mother Nature will take care of the rest.”
“Will you take care of asking Mother Nature for help?” said Flit. “I will go find my friend, the crow.”
His mother smiled. “I will go get the best seed from this tree that I can find”, she said, “and I guarantee that Mother Nature will do her part.”
Flit took off to find his friend. It did not take long. The crow was at his usual place, sitting on top of a scarecrow in the field nearby.
“Hi, Conrad”, said Flit.
“Hello, there”, said the crow.
“I need your help”, said Flit. “My mother is going to get me a seed from our tree so that we can plant a new tree like ours. You have seen the farmer plant his seeds; can you help me plant ours?”
“What a good idea”, said Conrad. “I would be happy to help. I have watched the farmer plant many seeds. I have dug some of them up to eat, but I leave most of them for him. I think I can show you how it’s done. First, we need to pick just the right place to plant it.”
“I think I know just the right spot”, said Flit. “Follow me.” They flew back to Flit’s home, and landed on a patch of dirt nearby the old fallen tree. The dirt was moist and dark, and was in the shade of Flit’s tree.
“This is a perfect spot”, the crow announced.
There was a young squirrel sitting on the old tree, counting the nuts that had fallen out. “What are you two doing?” asked the squirrel.
“We’re going to plant a new tree”, said Flit.
“How wonderful!” said the squirrel. “How can I help?”
“That’s a great idea”, said Conrad. “You can start by clearing out these small rocks while Flit and I pull out the weeds. We want a nice clean area for the tree to grow.”
“I’ll do it right now”, said the squirrel. “I’ll be done in no time.” She began gathering the rocks and putting them aside in a pile.
A rabbit poked his head out of a hollow section of the log. “I want to help, too”, he said.
“Good”, said Conrad. “You can use your strong hind legs to dig up this dirt, so that it’s soft. That will help the new tree to sprout.”
“I can do that”, said the rabbit He hopped over and started scratching up the hard, crusty top layer of earth.
A tiny mouse came out from under the fallen tree. “How can I help?” he asked.
“You can dig us a little hole to plant our seed in”, said Conrad.
When they were done, they all stepped back to admire their work.
“Now we’re ready for the seed”, said Conrad.
Flit was excited. “I’ll go get it!” he said. He flew off to find his mother. She was already waiting for him at their nest.
“Here is the seed”, she said. “I brought the nicest one I could find. Take good care of it and hold it gently in your beak. You must not crack the shell.” The seed she gave him surprised him because it was so tiny. It was smaller than a half of a grain of rice. “Don’t worry about the size”, she said. “It’s a special seed. A mustard seed. It’s the same type that our tree grew out of.”
Flit trusted his mother. “I’ll be careful”, he promised.
As he flew off,
his mother called after him. “Plant it properly, and Mother Nature will do the
Flit carefully carried the precious seed back to where his friends were waiting.
“Where’s the seed?” asked Conrad.
Flit dropped the tiny seed in the hole. It all but disappeared in the earth.
“That’s it?” the animals said in unison.
“Yes”, said Flit. “My mother gave it to me.”
“But we want a big tree.”
“One that’s tall!”
“One with plenty of branches”
“This is it”, Flit assured them. “This is the same type of seed that our tree sprouted from.”
“It can’t be!”
“There must be some mistake.”
“It’s too small!”
“It will take forever to grow.”
“It’s true that it will take some time for it to grow”, said Flit, “but it will grow. It will be big and tall and large and grand. You’ll see. You must have faith.”
“I’ll cover the seed up”, said the squirrel. She patted the earth down gently over the seed. “Now what?” she asked.
“Mother Nature will do the rest”, said Flit.
From His throne in Heaven, God looked down upon the little woodland creatures… and smiled. Gentle rains came and watered the seed. Within days, the seed sprouted; and when the sun shone down upon it, the young tree took shelter from the shade of its mother. When the winds blew upon it, the young tree took shelter from the leaves of its mother. So, the young tree grew. And grew and grew. It grew so fast, that by the following summer, the new tree was big and tall and wide and grand. It grew so many wide branches, that, soon, the birds were able to build their new nests in them.
Conrad the crow was among the first to move in. “Well, Flit”, Conrad said to him, “I have to admit that you were right. I didn’t think that tiny seed could grow into such a magnificent, huge tree.”
The squirrel found a hollow niche in its trunk to store her nuts. The rabbit dug a burrow in its shade. The mouse made his home among the fallen leaves at its base. But that’s not all; spiders, ants, and all kinds of insects built their homes there. The new tree supported life for thousands of creatures.
Flit’s friends all found a comfortable home, all because he had faith of the size of the tiny mustard seed. Just as the seed was protected and cared for, so was his faith, until it grew just as big and tall and wide and grand as the magnificent mustard tree.
THE MUSTARD SEED (Mark 4:30-32)
“Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is smaller than all the seeds on earth. But when it is sown, it grows up, and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out great branches, so that the fowls of the air may nest under its shade.”