Tilling the Soil of My Heart
My first 18 years of life were spent on a farm. I learned at an early age what it means to plow and prepare the land, to plant the seed and then to wait for God to provide the rain to help the seed to grow. Sometimes we had to get rid of the weeds that choked the plants. Sometimes the rain didn’t come. And sometimes, insects took over. And sometimes we had the most abundant harvest imaginable.
I loved the smell of newly plowed soil. That rich black soil had some of the finest, juiciest worms that we used for fishing. And the fishing we did sometimes yielded enough fish to feed our large family. When I was in 4-H, I remember giving talks about soil conservation—we had to be good to the earth and to the soil if we wanted it to produce a rich harvest. Our care had to be coupled with God’s gifts of rain and good weather. These were the lessons learned from the earth, from nature!
Our Scripture readings this weekend are filled with the images of the sower, seed, and soil. And the music chosen to accompany our celebration of Eucharist at Mass reinforces the messages. The Gospel reminds us that the fruitfulness of the earth and our own lives should not be taken for granted. We have to be engaged in the process. We have “work” to do if we want to be the “good” soil. Our hearts are the soil. And here are some suggested reflections for some serious “heart work.”
Preparing our hearts for reception of God’s word invites us to examine the condition of our hearts. What might have hardened them? What could soften them? What are the thorns of anxiety that might occupy our hearts? What experiences in church life would help us with “weeding”? What is the source of rain for our hearts? What will continue to make our hearts rich and pliable so that the seed of God’s will can sow mercy, biblical justice, and reconciliation in us and in our world?
Take time to reflect on the kind of soil that you are. What will it take for God’s word to take root in you so that you remain as faithful in difficult times as in easy ones? What thorns of anxiety choke you and keep you from trusting God’s promise to be with you at all times? What will it take to make the soil of your life rich and pliable rather than hard and unyielding? Open your eyes and ears to the world around and within you. Invite God’s grace to build on nature by raining into the soil that you are and letting God’s presence bear fruit beyond imagining.