The parable of the sower and the seed is very familiar to us as are the various interpretations of the nature of the soil which symbolise the state of our heart. We have rightly been encouraged to lead lives which have all the ingredients of lives rooted in good ‘soil’: lives of love, of prayer, of forgiveness, of gentleness, of compassionate action…. These are the fruits of growth from good soil. But what is good soil? In farming terms good soil is soil that has been ploughed, has been turned over and over, and has been fertilised. In other words it has had lots of manure dug into it. It stinks, it is messy but it is rich for planting. It is where growth takes place. The seed has to be transformed from one form into another. This is done in the dark womb of the soil. It is in darkness and in solitude that transformation takes place. Death, darkness and solitude are used as vehicles of transformation. Out of death comes life. Out of darkness comes life. Pain, darkness and discomfort are the vehicles or portals that are used to transform us.
Our culture today despises pain and difficulty, it does everything it can to avoid it. “We give answers too quickly, take away pain too easily and too quickly stimulate. We build false structures on top of the soil. The soil is piled high with things that will hopefully anaesthetise the pain. These are the weeds and the thorns and the hard ground. The seed cannot even reach the soil. In terms of soul work, we dare not get rid of the pain before we have learned what it has to teach us. Darkness and brokenness are where we learn lessons of humility, trust, gratefulness, resilience and reliance. Yet this sacred space is the very space we avoid…we avoid God, who works in the darkness – where we are not in control! Maybe that is the secret: relinquishing control?”
If you feel that circumstances have ploughed through your life; if you feel that your life is messy; if you are in a dark place right now, know that you are in the very space where transformation can take place. Allow the spirit of God to begin that metamorphosis in you. Embrace the pain and allow it to teach you. Don’t become hard and bitter or look for things to anaesthetise the pain. Life will come to your spirit. Trust the process and allow it to produce good fruit in you. Let the darkness do its work. You are in good soil.
Adapted: Lisa Hunt-Wotton and Richard Rohr
Gospel: Matthew 13:1-23
Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”
Then the disciples came and asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: ‘You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn-and I would heal them.’
“But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.
“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.