One of my favorite images of God is as a gardener. In Genesis we encounter a God who “planted a garden in Eden” and walked through it “at the time of the evening breeze” (2:8–3:8). This week the parable of the sower invites us to dig a little deeper.

After sharing the parable with a huge crowd, Jesus explains it to his disciples: God is the sower, the Word is the seed, and we are the different types of soil.

We’re like the footpath if we hear the Word, but fail to understand it and allow it to be snatched away. We’re like the rocky ground if we receive the Word with initial enthusiasm, but allow it to die, especially in times of trial. We’re like the thorny ground if we hear the Word, but let the cares of the world choke it out. We’re like the fertile soil if we hear the Word, understand it, and let it take root in our lives so that it bears fruit.

Pause and reflect: What kind of soil am I?

Thomas Merton teaches that God is like a gardener who uses every moment and every event to plant something of spiritual significance in our lives. Our Christian mission, then, is to be “good dirt” for the seeds of faith that God plants in our lives.

What spiritual practices help you receive the Word and grow in God’s love? How might you become a better “soul gardener”?

—Jeremy Langford, Director of Communications for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.