Every time I plant flowers in my yard, I am confronted with the fact that the soil in my neighborhood is less than ideal. It’s too poor, too full of clay, to sustain the garden I have in mind.
So before I do any planting, I drag over a huge bag of garden soil, slash it open, and mix it with the native dirt. The bagged soil is like good, rich chocolate, dark and fragrant. It would be quicker to put the plants right into the ground, but my flowers won’t thrive without first amending the soil. I know better than to skip that necessary step. I think of today's Gospel and all of Jesus' commentary on rich soil and take heed.
And yet in my own spiritual life, I sometimes struggle to do the steps that will make me more fully alive. I go to weekly Mass, but I’m less consistent with habits of daily prayer, even though I know that it is necessary to enrich the soil of my soul.
It’s not because I don’t care.
Increasingly, it’s because the prayer routines I have always done no longer work at this point in my life. For years I did a morning Bible reading over coffee, but for whatever reason, that is less effective than it used to be; I’m too distracted to let the words sink in.
These days, I find that the most helpful prayer habit is just sitting in silence, looking at the sky or the garden or a candle flame, simply feeling the presence of God. I am trying to be better about doing it more often. And those silent moments nurture me and strengthen me. Like the good soil in the Gospel, they make me more receptive to God’s word and God’s presence throughout the rest of my day.
“Pray as you can, not as you can’t,” said the English abbot John Chapman. Those are words to live by. There are countless ways to commune with God, countless ways to make ourselves receptive to the seeds of His love. And when that love flowers and blooms for others to see, we will know that it’s working.
Ground yourself in a rich sacramental life and see how those graces flow over into everything else. Attend daily Mass, regular Confession, and make a spiritual communion as often as you can!
Ginny Kubitz Moyer is a mother, high school English teacher, and BBC period drama junkie. She is the author of Random MOMents of Grace: Experiencing God in the Adventures of Motherhood and Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. Ginny lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two boys, and about thirty thousand Legos. You can find out more about her here. She is the author of our Blessed Conversations: The Seven Sacraments found here.