The Two Little Grains of Wheat

The Two Little Grains of Wheat

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit"—John 12:24

Once upon a time two little grains of wheat grew side by side. They were both born and raised on the same "head," that is, the part of the wheat stalk that contains the seed. These two grains had over fifty brothers and sisters who were born at the same time.

The two grains were close friends. They had grown up together. Outwardly you might say they were identical twins, judging by appearances. Yet there was a world of difference between them.

One was bright, gay, and unselfish. The other was vain, proud, and self-centered, thinking that every field mouse and meadow lark that came by looked only at it.

As summer turned to fall and the frosty nights got colder, farmers began to harvest the wheat. They brought their thrashing machinery into the fields—whir-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r, rattle, rattle, rattle, clackety, clack, it went—and separated all the wheat seeds from their stalks. Round and round the seeds went inside a drum at a dizzying speed, making their heads spin. Then they fell into a wagon with literally tens of thousands of their wheat-seed cousins.

Shortly afterward, with millions and millions of almost identical grains they were sucked through a dark, roaring tunnel called by the farmers a suction tube. Up, up, up, into a grain elevator they were pulled by the invisible air; then they dropped from a terrible height to their winter's resting place.

By a thousand in one miracle the two little grains of wheat who had lived so closely all summer and fall found themselves now snuggled side by side also in the grain elevator. How glad they were to see each other, despite their different characters.

Outside the winter wind howled and snow fell. Inside the millions and millions of wheat seeds slept peacefully, waking now and then to whisper to one another.

One very cold day the selfish grain asked the other, "What do you think will happen to me now?"

"I don't know exactly," the other replied, "but I heard the seeds over in the corner of the bin, where they can hear the outside conversation, say that we are going to be planted. And lucky for us too. I understand that all the other elevators around contain "flour" grains. They're literally ground up into a fine powder and eaten. What a fate! It makes me shudder. Think how fortunate we are."

"I don't care about them. And why should we be ground up? We've never done anything to deserve it. But I still want to know what will happen to me."

The other grain patiently replied, "Let's listen to the seeds lying outside. Maybe they can tell us."

From the seeds nearest the outside they learned that "being planted" meant being placed in the ground, covered up with dirt, and later having one's beautiful brown, shiny coat split wide open by a "sprout" that came from inside.

The selfish seed began to weep.

"How horrible! How perfectly horrible. And do you realize that I was probably the loveliest seed on our entire stalk? Or in the whole field, for that matter.

"Hush now. It won't help to rave like that," whispered the unselfish seed.

"I'm not raving, but I won't sprout. I won't, I tell you!"

"They say that if you won't sprout, you die and rot and nobody remembers you. I'd think twice if I were you," said the other, trying to talk sense into its brother's head.

"I'll take my chances," it replied. "At least I know what I'm like now, and that's better than changing."

Soon afterward all the millions of wheat seeds in the elevator were loaded into large wagons and then with a terrifying whir-r-r-r-ing sound were dumped into a seed-planting machine. The selfish grain shrieked with horror, protesting all the while that it wouldn't go.

As fate would have it, the two grains fell into the ground side by side and no sooner landed than a layer of moist black dirt fell on top of them.

"Help! help!" cried the selfish grain. "Somebody get me out of here. It's dark and I'm smothering!"

"Hush now. I'm just as scared as you, but screaming won't help in the least. Our mother wheat plant must have gone through something like this, and no wheat stalk that ever grew was lovelier than she."

"I don't care! I'm different. I won't sprout. I want to get out of here! Help! Help!" screamed the selfish seed.

But that was impossible.

Under the dark, damp soil they could feel the difference between day and night. In the daytime their dark home became warm and cozy under the sun's rays. At night they nearly froze. About the third day they both awoke with splitting headaches. My, how they did hurt!

Actually their pain was quite natural. You might call them "growing pains" they were so natural, that is, pains that some­how come to us all in the process of growing up.

Their heads felt as if they would burst. 'What a pain!

From what they had overheard back in the elevator, they both realized that they were about to sprout.

The selfish seed cried angrily, "I won't sprout, I tell you!"

The unselfish seed replied, "Frankly I'm not crazy about the idea myself, but it's the only way I'll ever see the sun, the trees, the lovely blue sky, or the meadow larks again. And you don't really die. You know that. You simply change form and live far more wonderfully than before. It's just being willing to give yourself up that's the hard part. Come on now, brother, we've been together so long. We were born and raised together. We spent those long months together in the elevator. And now we have this glorious chance to see the world together. Why don't you be sensible?"
But the other was stubborn. "I'm not committing suicide. Go ahead if you want to."

"Please."

"No," said the other, "and that's final."

"Well, here goes. Ouch! my head! Oh-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-oh! My beautiful coat is splitting. There now, it's over. I'll never be the same again. Please come, brother; it's my last chance to talk with you. Won't you give up your pride?"

But the selfish seed said No.

The freshly sprouted, seed sent a lovely green shoot upward through the moist soil and peeked out at the loveliest, brightest blue sky it had ever seen. It drew on its remaining strength inside its body to send down a tender root to draw up more food and water. Above, as its head shot higher, it saw thousands of other wheat plants, pale pastel green in color, thrusting their way upward toward the life-giving sun. Meadow larks shot past full of cheerful song.

Under the dark soil lay the poor little selfish seed, its body now dead and decaying. A worm came by and took a nibble. The rest of it became moldy and soon was a part of the soil itself.

If we could choose, which seed would we be like?

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