Maria was a migrant worker just like her mother and her mother before her. Her days were long, filled with hard work in the sun, with the women talking as they worked beside each other to pass the time.
Maria could remember working next to her grandmother when she was just a girl. She remembered all her grandmother had taught her about the fields and their family back in Mexico and how they worked here so that grandma’s children left back there could have a better life.
But, what her grandmother loved to talk about most were the plants on the outskirts of the field, the wild mustard that grew like weeds on the roadsides and in washes, their spindly stalks lifting yellow flowers up toward the sun.
“These land owners, they think these mostazas (mustards) are weeds, mija. They can’t see them for what they really are. Back in Mexico, your Abuelo and me had an ejido (communal farm) where we raised cacao with our 4 children, including the baby, your mama, and we were very happy.
But when Camacho brought in the granjeros corporativos (corporate farmers), we had to buy their seed. Our family went into debt and soon after your Yayo got very sick.
I remember the day we buried him. My heart was heavy because I knew me and my ninos could not stay on the land. I did not know how I was going to provide without a husband.
That morning I cried out to God, “Jesus! Please help me! What am I to do?” And as I dressed your Abuelo for his burial, a mustard seed fell from his coat pocket out onto the bed. Mija, I planted that seed in the ground right next to your Yayo.
Soon after, we left the land and went to the city to stay with my sister. But she had little and could not keep all of us for long. I knew I had to make my way up here to Los Estados Unidos if I was going to provide for my children. Leaving my ninos with my sister was so hard.
I took your mama with me because she was still too small to be on her own. With my heart breaking, we left to begin our journey. On our way up north, we passed by the farm where your Abuelo and I had been so happy. You’ll never believe what I saw!
That little mustard seed had grown into a big tree with many branches! And all the branches were filled with beautiful birds. I have never seen anything like it before or since.
I remembered what Jesus said in the bible, that “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its branches.” (Matt. 13:31-32)
Nobody knew where that tree had come from but me. Nobody would have believed that such a tree came from a little mustard seed. But from that day, I knew that no matter what happens and no matter where we must go, God is caring for Yayo, for me and for my babies and grand-babies. I knew that so long as I carry the seed of Jesus in my heart, God will make a place for us.
God can make things happen, mija, that are not supposed to be. God can make miracles in places that are filled with tears.
You see these mostazas making their seeds, they grow near every road we travel for our work. When you see these mostazas, mija, remember that God’s miracles are growing all around us. Make your nest in the branches of God’s miracles, and never forget there is a place that you belong.”