By Susan Klemond
As I prepared to plant vegetables in a sunny corner of my yard this spring, I heard the dull sound of my spade hitting large rocks. That’s not a gardener’s favorite sound.
Last year I discovered that previous owners of the property decided half a century ago to dump all the rocks they could find in this spot. I found dozens of rocks of all sizes, shapes and colors buried in their cache. I thought I’d dug them all out last year, but I was still finding more.
After removing the big rocks, I raked over the small ones too numerous to pick out, hoping the plants could grow around them.
It probably seems crazy to plant in this spot but it’s the sunniest place in my shady yard. And the soil really isn’t bad, as I harvested a good crop of tomatoes and peppers from last year.
In the parable of the sower (Mt. 13:1-9), Our Lord says that seed landing on the rocky soil has only a little better chance than what the farmer accidentally drops on the path.
Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.
There are different ways of looking at this parable. I like the explanation that my soul is like my garden—there are rocks and thorns, but also a patch of good soil.
Some seed does land on the path of my soul, like the Scripture passage, homily or even good advice I’m too distracted or tired to appreciate. Sometimes it seems like seed is wasted when I listen to a good talk and later don’t remember any of it because I didn’t take notes.
When I consider the rocks in my spiritual life they are all the obstacles to prayer and to following through on the little nudges God gives me to do an act of service. These roadblocks include fear, selfishness, busyness and sloth—all of which derail a spiritual practice or other good intention.
My spiritual thorns are pride and impatience which can put dents in a good work I’m trying to do. Sometimes I’ve set out to do some act of charity only to stick my thumb in it by being uncharitable or impatient. Taking pride in a work of mercy is another way to choke it.
With a landscape like this in my soul, it’s a wonder I produce any spiritual fruit! But I’m confident there is some good ground, even if a gust of pride blows away a little topsoil now and then.
As I remove the rocks from my own garden to give plants space to grow in good soil, God continues to help me remove the thorns and rocks from my own soul—as long as I let him be the gardener!
About the author:
Susan Klemond is freelance writer in St. Paul, Minnesota, who writes articles on faith, family and Christian values for Catholic newspapers and magazines.