I had an early start to my day, as I caught a plane at 6:00. I slept during the flight for a bit and then pulled out my morning devotionals. The new collects seem wordy to me and I sometimes have to read them three times before they make sense. Today’s was meaningful to me: …grant your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that amid the uncertainties of this world, our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found. God plants in our hearts the seeds that will sprout with joy and peace if we fix our eyes on God’s promises despite and amid the uncertainties in front of us.
The idea of God as a Gardener is appealing to me, being the daughter of a farm boy who always kept a patch of earth in the city for homegrown goodness. Today’s first reading is about planting, watering and growing. We can plant, we can water, but only God will give the growth, 1 Corinthians 3 says. We are God’s field, it continues. I liked that image. I tried to visualize what my field looked like at this moment in time. Would I attract honeybees, hummingbirds and butterflies? Would I nourish a soul in need? Am I overrun with weeds or neatly cared for?
The Gospel tells us that Jesus departs from the crowds and escapes to a deserted place after curing the sick all day. Jesus knew that God was planting, watering and allowing growth but that he needed to take care of himself in order to do the will of his Father. Every field should lay fallow once in awhile to ensure future production. Jesus knew where his true desire lay, even with the uncertainties of the work that he was doing. Today, in one of my devotional books, I read about Bogdan Mandic, a Croatian friar who had experienced a severe penance as a child and promised that one day he would hear confessions and extend mercy instead of punishment. Saint Leopold Mandic, as he would become later in life, knew that he had a desire to serve God in this way, and would for 50 years. He transformed what was planted from his bad experience into a beautiful flower that attracted many people. He was accused of being too lenient by his brothers but he looked to Jesus as his model, Jesus who did not humiliate people the way he had been as a child.
He was not lenient–in fact, the story reveals that sometimes he did not give absolution if he occasionally found someone who refused to turn away from their sinful habits. Leopold was badly treated in life, but he continued to show mercy. God’s field within him yielded a magnificent harvest. Abundant crops can be ours too if we focus on where true gladness is to be found.
What state is God’s field in your life?
Have you pulled out weeds in the field like Leopold so as to transform a bad experience for beauty and goodness?
Gardener God, you encourage us to grow into something beautiful that the world can enjoy and be blessed by. Let me choose wisely the right people to water and care for me so that my gifts can be used to glorify your name. Amen.