Jesus expressed in his parable of the sower the ways in which we lose the germination opportunity or coming to bear fruit of the seed that has been sown. Those seeds falling on a hard worn path with no opportunity to be buried in the soil are like devil that “comes and takes away the word from their heart that they may not believe or be saved.” Another way can be from those who fixate on mere scientism or empiricism, and so denounce any spiritual or transcendental experience as mere coincidence, or dismissed as offering no empirical substance, no proof, thus explaining away any trace of spirit. Others “receive the word with joy but have no root.” Some encounter God, experience a deep emotional connection at the moment but once the emotion wanes, they move onto other pursuits, other experiences that will satisfy the senses. Still, others receive for a time God’s word, come to a place of germination and sprouting, experience new growth but “are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit.”
We still fall prey to each of the above examples and at different times. We are distracted, diverted, busy, we seek merely accomplishing and moving on to the next activity or item on the list, but if we ever want to experience mature fruit, we must “embrace [the word] with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”
Do we read a book just to finish, go to church just to say we went, visit or call relatives, friends, to say we have accomplished our duty, go to work or school just to get to Friday? To be fully alive we need to be present in our experiences. To embrace what we do, it is important to slow down and breathe. Then maybe we can read to come to understand and put into practice what we may have learned. This is truer still when we are reading the Bible. Spending time meditating and contemplating upon a few words or phrases that spark our interest well past the initial reading is very helpful.
This practice can also apply when we go to church, in person or online. We can receive a lesson or two from a prayer, a hymn, the word, or preaching, take something with us, think about and put it into practice over the week. When we communicate and visit with friends and family, it is important to be present, and open to their needs, willing to hear their stories, and experiences. It is also good to be open to the wonder of those friends and family we have not yet met for whom in the past we may have just walked by or over. In our work, our dedication to school as a student, our entry into retirement, we can resist the attitude of just getting through the day and instead seek meaning in what we do and embrace the joy of the gift of life we have been given.
When we take some deep breathes, are present and more mindful in our daily activities, we might be more aware of the seeds that God has sown, more apt to nurture them, more patient with the process of germination and growth, and more able to persevere in our discipline of study, prayer, worship, serving one another, and strengthening our relationships to allow good, firm roots to take hold and soon experience some wonderful growth!
Photo: Bird of Paradise in the meditation garden outside our apartment while living in Los Angeles in 2019.