After returning from our lengthy road trip earlier this summer, there was a certain green, jungle-like vegetation that took over our entire yard. *Specifically, my garden. Hours and hours were spent meticulously rooting out the weeds (with a fork) to restore order among the vegetables. Too many delicious things were at stake, I reasoned, to let it go so early in the season. In the pruning process, I up-rooted and re-planted numerous seedlings in the name of efficiency and preventing invasion.
Although you may marvel at my diligence, organization and attention to nitty-gritty detail (ha!)—it’s a façade. Don’t let this neatly pruned patch of dirt fool you. In reality, this push to reclaim my territory is based on a feeling of scarcity, impatience and mistrust, at least in terms of growth potential.
(Ways I am not like the Sower in this weekend’s Gospel reading).
I can appreciate if this parable doesn’t read in a consoling way to you. However, I have found it to be a comforting read and here’s why: The Sower (Jesus) is not discouraged or hasty when the field takes on a different, less-orderly appearance than perhaps originally imagined. I am so encouraged by this. Rather than going through and smiting all life-forms other than wheat (as is my technique), there is a steady approach and a loving one, so intent on the outcome of each individual, that their disruption cannot even be considered--and that means fostering the growth of an additional crop as well.
This makes no sense, literally. Certainly very few farmers would take confidently to this practice in the name of sound agriculture—there’s too much room for failure. What I gather from this parable is that the Lord sees failure in a much different light than we might. That, and there is absolutely no rush. There is only offering hospitality and nourishment for those on the journey with us; especially, those whose roots are tangled up with our own, squeezing us, and growing right beside us.
Oh, for this kind of love.
It is clear in either option of today’s Gospel reading that Jesus has a story to tell and a clear takeaway—spelling it out or putting it on repeat in so many different ways that the meaning cannot possibly be lost. Basically, it seems really important to Jesus that those listening to the parables understand clearly that the Kingdom is much bigger, wilder and more patient than we can appreciate or imagine, which would suggest perhaps that God is, too.
In gratitude for little reminders like this, all those who toil on the land and the breadth of all that creation has to teach us.
P.S. If you want to read a timely piece about farmers— treat yourself to Ann Voskamp's piece from July 19, 2017.