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Stray Thoughts from the Garden

The best explanation for the parable of the sower is of course given by Christ Himself a paragraph or two afer he gives the parable. So I had to makea chart for myself to keep it straight in my heard.

Ok, the sower is God and the seed is His Word and it lands on various spots and those spots are teh hearts of various people. The four places are the path, the rocky ground, the thorns, and the good soil:

I apologize, but from here on out this will be a heavily garden-themed post. My daily work is in the monastery garden so, while I don't have the wisdom to spin my scattered thoughts into a spiritual statement or teaching; I do have some stray observations from the garden that might add some color the the metaphor that Christ has chosen. Any spiritual insight willl have to come from your own prayer. I'm just not that holy or wise yet. Sorry.

Some seed fell on the path. The ground of a path is hard and dead. And it takes a lot of muscle too loosen it. Apparently some times of year are more conducive to this work than other times. Our tomato patch is evidence of that; we tilled it way too late. A compact field or garden bed "wants" to re-compact itself. You have to be very vigilant abour tilling a bed that used to be a path. You need to re-till it, very deeply, every year. Now, "understanding", here does have the surface-level meaning of "yes I get it. My brain is smart enough to comprehend it." But the word in Greek carries with it a meaning of incorporation. A mind that understands has welcomed something in from the outside and this new thing is now a part of the mind. This also shows up in English when we talk about being able to "wrap my head around" some idea. So a heart that does not understand refuses to welcome the word, it is a hard heart.

Some seed fell on rocky ground and sprung up quickly with no root. Gardeners describe plants that do this as "leggy". There are so many small rocks in our dirt that for two springs in a row, our greenhouse has been full of leggy seedlings. I have to ge them into good soil quickly or they won't grow right. Pulling rocks out of your soil is a decades-long process of tossing aside every rock you see whenever you work, till, weed, or plant in your garden. It simply can't be done all at once.

Some seed fell among thorns. Christ's immediate audience had tares, we have black berry and crabgrass. The thing about these plants is, there's no coexistence between them and the vegetables I'm trying to grow. If purslane, technically a weed, pops up in my asparagus bed, I'm not that worried. But blackberry thorns? They gotta go. One of the fathers here was helping me weed the squash patch. He understands this parable because he told me "That's good work for a monk, I can think about all the distractions I need to pull out!" This father might have noticed that some of the plants were choked so bad by the thorns that they stayed stunted and small. But even the large plants that had grown as tall as the choking weeds were now misshapen: twisted away from their true purpose by their race to outrun the weeds. And while some had flowers, none had fruit.

Some brothers enjoying a walk in the woods

Some seed landed on good soil and yielded 100/60/30-fold. I read once that a typical harvest back then would be somewhere between 7.5 and 10-fold. So even 30-fold is really good! When you garden, your not really in charge of growing the plant. The sun, the water, and the grace of God do all that work for you. Your main job, the place where almost all your sweat goes, is the soil. It takes a LOT of work to create good soil. Good soil is substantial, but not dense; soft, but not thin. Good soil is alive in a way that welcomes larger life, not in an infested or aggressive way that repels or kills anything good. Once you hav good soil, your garden grows very fast, almost painlessly, and almost without your noticing it. You turn around and BOOM there's wheat! 30-fold!

I have nothing to add. Take this to prayer if you like. Maybe Christ will attach a stray detail to something happening in your soul. Maybe he will make you forget the whole thing because that's what's most helpful to you. He, and you, are free to do so.

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