I did not inherit my grandmother's green thumb. I learned a long time ago that green plants do not live long in my house, and our yard is only maintained by an automatic sprinkler system. So I often read the parable of the sower with a sense of distance and awe. I admire anyone who has the patience to nurture life in the garden, giving it the attention and care and time that it needs to truly grow and produce.
Preparing for a week at kids' camp this year, the staff was asked to reflect on a few verses found a bit after the parable of the sower in Mark's gospel:
Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time! (The Message)
What relief I felt. This is the kind of gardener I am, I thought. I coordinate and plan programs that will hopefully plant seeds of faith in our children and families. Before I have seen the sprouts, however, I must move on to the next event or program, trying to get back to each child and family to nurture and care for them, but often feeling pulled by preparations for the next planting. Jesus addressed this reality for his disciples and I felt my ministry affirmed by his acknowledgment. "You're in this for the big picture, Susan. You plant the seeds. Do your best. I'll take care of the rest."
Following that devotion time, we had a great week at camp, and I felt myself focusing less on the planning and details, and more on the individual children as we worked and played and grew together. At times, I recognized that seeds I had helped plant years before were coming to their harvest as children tried new things or shared their faith. Like I imagine a farmer would, I felt a sense of pride and joy that I knew had really nothing to do with me or my efforts and everything to do with the power of God's love and care.
I did not inherit my grandmother's green thumb. I am not a patient, attentive gardener. Yet I look out in my backyard to find a pumpkin vine that is flourishing over our abandoned sandbox. The squirrels have planted pumpkins in our yard before but never have they done much more than sprout. This one has a pumpkin! And another vine is flowering nearby. I didn't plant these seeds. The earth has done all of this without my help. Thank you, God, for reminding me that the seeds I do plant will sprout and grow in your time and with your love. That's all I need to know.