A farmer went out to sow her seed. As she was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown. –SexyJesus, from The Gospel of Luke 8:5
I am a really bad gardener.
I forget to water the plants. I can remember to feed the kids and the cat, and scoop out the litter box (sometimes), and buy toilet paper when we run out, but the plants are in the periphery of my mind. Petunias wither and die under my touch. But the jade and aloe on my windowsill stay strong. They are low maintenance. So I keep them, and love them more.
There is much more light in this world than darkness, but the darkness has a way of creeping in better, a way of infecting us. Fear is so much more ubiquitous than faith. We struggle with our own mortality, our own survival. And all fears stem from there.
So what do we do when fears take hold? Fear, which is the father of doubt, and worry, and anger, and resentment, all poisons that filter through us on any given day? What do we do, in an age of technology, when we know perhaps too much, and are inundated with the awful, tragic events that take place every day, and don’t recognize moments of utter clarity, sprinkles of grace, the love shared between people at meals, or on playgrounds, or in a kiss and embrace? Anger, vengeance, and fear is often loud. Goodness, love, is quieter.
Think of yourself as an artist in this life. You have the capacity to create every day. You have choices to make that will exist simply in the moment or bear fruit for a later time. Sometimes, you do what you’re told to do, and follow in others’ footsteps, painting a pretty tree like the one you saw in Kohl’s. Sometimes, you are moved by something incomprehensible to get up in the middle of the night and splatter color on canvas, or on walls. Sometimes, you work long and hard at a portrait of your mother, and you can never seem to get it right.
And yet you don’t stop. Because you can’t. Because this is who you are. And despite others’ lack of kindness at times, despite a lack of support, you just keep digging deeper and deeper, to figure out what you believe. To figure out who’s side you’re really on. To figure out what makes you tick.
So when the voices of doubt flicker around you, and try to get in and pervade your soul, it is helpful to know they are simply the thorns. They are seeds that have fallen and not born fruit. Seeds that have fallen on deaf ears.
You cannot control what the thorns do, although you can remove yourself from them. You can untangle from their web, and not let your hair get caught.
What you can also do, which is the best thing, is keep planting seeds on good soil, like the farmer. Let those other fields go fallow. You tried your best on them for a while, but fallow is the way they want to go. Let them.
You turn to the rich soil, the moist, full, deep-delved earth. You sink your hands in it, and you plant new seeds. Seeds of love, and hope, and companionship. You keep planting those seeds, because you know they will sprout, and the good soil is a better use of your energy and time. Why water the seeds in the thorns, when they have shown you, time and again, they are not going to grow? And if by some miracle one day, a flower sprouts up over there, great! Good for them! Keep focusing on your goals, this rich, masterfully envisioned garden that thrives under your attention and your nurturing, that is so beautiful, that is a marvel.
Seep into it, embrace it, spend time with it. Smell its fruit, eat from it, learn from it, rejoice.
In other words:
Keep planting your seeds. Keep sending out love. Keep focusing on your goals, your dreams, the beauty that surrounds you. That’s what deserves your attention.