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A Seedbed for the Growing To Come

Millions of people suffer or have suffered from depression, and I’m one of them. In the past 30 years, I’ve made three deep dives into the darkness.

As I’ve worked to integrate those experiences into my sense of who I am, I’ve found it important to write and speak on the topic. “Going public” this way is not only therapeutic for me. It also gives me a chance to stand in solidarity with others who suffer, to let them (and those who care for them) know they’re not alone.

My writing on the subject includes chapter IV in Let Your Life Speak and the poem below. The poem came to me during a time of deep depression when I was out in the country walking past a recently harrowed field.

Writing the poem was a healing experience. It helped me understand something I’m glad I know: the hard times we all go through plow up our inner ground and turn it over, giving us chance after chance to “plant a greening season” in and through our lives.

by Parker J. Palmer

The plow has savaged this sweet field
Misshapen clods of earth kicked up
Rocks and twisted roots exposed to view
Last year’s growth demolished by the blade.

I have plowed my life this way
Turned over a whole history
Looking for the roots of what went wrong
Until my face is ravaged, furrowed, scarred.

Enough. The job is done.
Whatever’s been uprooted, let it be
Seedbed for the growing that’s to come.
I plowed to unearth last year’s reasons—

The farmer plows to plant a greening season.

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