The Seed Must Fall

No doubt it’s compensation for one deficiency or another, but as long as I can remember, I’ve doodled or sketched or drawn, often when I’m sitting still and need to be paying attention. In long meetings. During sermons. When trying to be, as they say, mindful.

I usually carry a Moleskine notebook and a water-based 5.0-point Artline pen. I like the way the one works with the other.

Over time I’ve gotten used to people watching me sketch. Kids are the best—they have no trouble whatsoever getting close and staring. Adults are watching too but pretend they’re not. I know it’s not because what I’m drawing is so well done. But like the construction project down the street, there is something universally appealing about watching something being made. Research also tells us that at least half of us are visual learners, so for some, watching is easier to digest than reading or listening to words. It certainly is true for me.

Unexpected Finds

After filling up the pages of one notebook and taking the plastic off a new one, I sort through the odds and ends I have collected and stuffed in the back of the old one along the way: magazine clippings, copies of articles that were given to me, photos, and snippets of art I happened across.

Most I recognize because they have already made the transfer a time or two from a previous book. But there was one piece of folded paper I hadn’t remembered: a song written by Lee Hardy, put to music by David Feuntes, called “The Seed Must Fall” (see p. 41). I don’t recall where I picked this up, but the title alone is probably why I kept this one—and the verses are good, too:

The title and text stuck with me, and ideas for visualizing the concept showed up in my sketchbook now and again. All the while questions float through my head, begging my hand to make a decision with the pen:

  • What kind of seed should it be? Does it matter?
  • What does a seed that’s falling look like?
  • Do I show the problem (death, darkness) or the problem solved (light, newness, growth)?
  • What about light above and dark below?
  • How do I keep the focus on the seed?
  • How can I tell the story without overtelling it? Invite the viewer in, but don’t tell them what they should find—or what they should make of what they find.
  • When they leave, what do I want them to leave with?

If you’ve read this far, your attention is proof that many people like to see what’s behind a creative effort. Now what if we committed the above to video (https://tinyurl.com/TheSeedMustFall) and showed the process, either live or prerecorded, during worship—or even as worship?

Dean Heetderks (info@reformedworship.org) is art director of Reformed Worship and director of Proservices for the Christian Reformed Church.