I’ve spotted two so far. Tiny tomato sprouts from seeds that I planted 8 days ago. Seeds that are a few years old because last year I had a tomato tragedy and my plants weren’t able to produce fruit. I’ve been checking for signs of life a few times a day since I planted the seeds. I have a habit of impatience. And also doubt. Are they going to work? Are they too old? Is the soil too wet? Is it warm enough? What if nothing happens?
Oh me of little faith!
Seeds are amazing. Resilient. They possess magical, life-containing powers just waiting for the right conditions. Stuck in a baggy, shoved into a three-ring binder, stored on a bookshelf–they will not amount to much. Just hidden potential. I’m not sure how long they maintain their life force.
Add dirt. Water. Sun. Time. Miracles happen. New life happens. I’m already dreaming of red, ripe, softball-sized tomatoes. Sweet juice spilling all over my hands when I slice them for a sandwich or for my favorite summer breakfast of tomato slices and egg fried together in olive oil. Add a little sea salt and you have perfection on an early August morning.
Sprouts! That’s all they are now. I’m so excited.
Life is full of seeds. Seeds that transform us, bringing new life when the conditions in our hearts are right. We are full of miracles and life-changing potential buried deep in our souls. Seeds waiting for darkness. For softening. For nourishment. For warmth and light. For time to grow. What gives my soul space and room to grow? What practices soften my heart?
This business of transformation requires a lot from us. But it’s not pull-up your bootstraps, make over your life kind of work. The work required from us is about cultivating the conditions that allow for transformation–for becoming. How do we let God do God’s thing in our hearts? It’s a lot of work and it’s not really work at all. Does that make any sense?
Sometimes, we find ourselves in life with hearts that are hard and parched. How do we get to that place? We know too much. We are always right. We are living someone else’s life. We always have things to do and places to be and little time for stopping even for a short chance to catch our breath.
We forget to wonder. We have no time for mystery. No patience for paradox.
How do we cultivate a soft heart in the midst of laundry piles and soccer practices? Doctors appointments? Work obligations and responsibilities?
Here are just a few ideas:
What stops you in your tracks with wonder? Spend some time there.
What reminds you that you are fiercely and deeply loved? Spend time there too.
What reminds you that you are just one small part of this universe? One brief brushstroke? One drop in an ocean? Spend some time there.
What reminds you that you are connected to God? To others? To those who have gone before us and who will come after us? To creation? Spend some time there.
It’s hard to have a small, hard heart when we practice wonder. When we learn to drink deeply from the depth of God’s love for us. When we know in our bones the smallness and finiteness of our lives in these earth bodies. When we remember that we belong to one another.
Your soul might need different things than my soul. What does your soul need? Ask it. Listen for the answer.
An open, soft heart is a necessity for awakening to the life that is waiting inside of you. We can participate in its softening. In cultivating conditions that will allow for growth. And then we wait and rejoice in sprouts.