The reading for Sunday, Sept. 18: Luke 8: 4-15
Many of us have heard the parable of the sower so many times that we may assume we already know everything there is to know about this story. Indeed, if you read through the rest of Luke 8, Jesus explains the story in the usual way: some of us fall into soil and blossom, and the rest fall onto different kinds of ground and fail to flourish ultimately.
Many of us have been had this parable presented to us as a yardstick for measuring ourselves: what kinds of seeds are we? And yet, seeds are not a good metaphor for humanity--or are they? After all, it's not like seeds have any kind of self-determination. They are more acted upon than acting. If the sower doesn't toss them onto some sort of soil, they have no chance at all. They can't go out and get their own water and fertilizer. If weeds or thorns threaten them, they can't move. Most humans have more options than seeds.
I'm also thinking of plants that I've had that seem to be dead--and yet, they have somehow rebounded. I had a plant that had a pest who stripped off all its leaves. Because I am a lazy gardener, I left the plant alone until I had time to plant something else in the box. Imagine my surprise to find new leaves sprouting from the stalk that had looked so lifeless just a few weeks earlier.
As I think about this metaphor, I'm also thinking of my tomato plants, some of whom have sprouted in the most unlikely places. I have a front flower box that I'd assume wouldn't be good for a tomato plant, since it's shady and doesn't get as much rainwater as other parts of the yard--plus the soil isn't deep. And yet, last year, we got more tomatoes from the tomato plant that grew from reused potting soil that we put in the box than we did from other plants that had been placed more purposefully.
Perhaps we should be thinking about the soil of our lives. We all have ears to hear and hearts that have the possibility of being open. What can we do to ensure good soil for God's word? For each of us the answers will be different: some will require solitude, some time in nature; some will need some nourishing reading, while others will need creative outlets.
Whatever we need for the seeds of God's word to become sturdy sprouts that grow into strong plants--let us do it now.