Becoming a Sheltering Tree

Scripture    Matthew 13:24-43


 The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field;

it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown

it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree,

so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches. 


This week we are invited to reflect upon our receptivity and willingness to grow in our spiritual life. We begin by claiming the ‘seed ‘planted within us at birth. It is the very gift of our personal vocation. Jesus explains the parable: The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world and the good seeds are ‘the children of the kingdom.” Just as we must take care of those tiny seeds we plant in our gardens and fields by …loosening the soil, watering and fertilizing as the season goes on, so likewise, we must take care of “the seed of love” which the Sower-God has already implanted within the deepest recesses of our person from the first moment of our conception.


Just what our “seed of love” will become still remains somewhat of a mystery. We must discover our seed-life, our unique call, as it gradually unfolds and emerges into consciousness, out of the inner soil of our earth-being. We simply watch and wait, believe and remain receptive to the new life being created within us.  At the same time, we must co-operate with God by providing the proper environment – the sunlight and water – so that the seed can germinate and sprout and grow to full maturation. In all of this there will be silent mystery and wonder… uncertainty and budding insight… dark nights and serene dawns… finally nurture and compassion for others.


The ‘seed-in-the-ground’ is the kingdom of God within us! Imagine the Sower-God in the first moment of our personal creation planting within our heart this ‘seed of love’. Contemplate being with our Sower-God. May we learn to hold our ‘seed life’ with fondness for the precious tenderness of this sacred moment in our personal history. Allow God to speak in gentle whispers to us of the great hope and desire that fills His longing for our full “being and becoming the person God created us to be.” Get lost in the awe and hidden-ness of such a small beginning.


As we go about our work this week, may we pay attention to the ‘little things’ in our homes and work-places. Some might find it helpful to choose a biography of some “saint”: a person who cooperated with the Sower-God to reach full maturation of his/her seed potential. Check out the library and read their story for inspiration and encouragement in your own growth process. And of course, in our leisure hours, let us be sure to play with our plants. Take several garden strolls. Observe their growth…water occasionally…give them a sun-bath! Prune back the shrubs and dead-head the first blooms of the annuals. All the while, trust the necessity of a similar dying-rising in our own personal experience.


There is always a mystery about growth. “A sower throws seed on the land.  Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.  And when the crop is ready, he loses no time; he starts to reap because the harvest time has come.”  (Mark 4:26-29)


As we ponder this natural mystery, we can make comparisons to our own supernatural growth. It calls forth faith in God’s part within our growthful history. It also requires cooperation on our part; to respond, to nurture, to care for, and to harvest. This week we might do some reflection on:  

What within me needs to die so as to be able to experience more new life?

(e.g. self-image, negative attitudes, rigid, controlling behaviours, hardness of heart.)


We could possibly write in our personal journals about the receptivity of our soil-bed. Is my heart prickly, thorny, distracted by the cares of the world? Is my heart getting stony, harsh, resistant and defensive in the daily struggles and obstacles I am facing? Or is my heart well-cultivated by prayer, mindfulness of God and humility? Enjoy a dialogue with our Sower-God.  


Summer is a wonderful season to celebrate with family and friends the fruits and vegetables from our gardens. Our diligent labours have contributed to all the wonderful fresh produce that fills our fields and then our markets and grocery stores. Plan to have a ‘thanksgiving harvest meal’ rejoicing in the fruits and healthy produce of another season of growth. As you sit around, enjoying the BBQ and good foods, start to share some conversation in gratitude for the inner spiritual growth you have reaped this year.

Praying with this parable of the Mustard Seed, marvel that you too, are likewise, responding to the light and warmth and moisture that God and you have been giving it. Marvel at your inner potential and natural attraction toward activating and enjoying this God-life within you. Yes, you are growing! You are becoming more and more a child of the kingdom of God…  and the field, the world, is grateful for the new compassion and joy and fruitfulness you are contributing for the good of the whole. Rejoice and be glad!

All growth is work! There can be no real growth without change, pain and struggle. The stages of spiritual growth are:

                          Immersion in the world and involvement in creation

                          The stage of personal conversion  (an intensely spiritual metanoia)

                          Critical threshold of emergence   (dark night of the senses)

                          The stage of emergence   (dark night of the spirit)

                          Spiritual espousal

                          Spiritual marriage  (transformation in the Beloved)

                          Death: the fullest accomplishment of the growth process



If you feel inspired, you might want to write about the ‘threshold of growth’ you are presently undergoing.  Allow your inner being to guide you to the source of wisdom within. Do not become hasty or restless for this spiritual growth process takes us a lifetime. God is a very patient Gardener! When we reach our maturation, perfection, may our prayer be: “The glory of God is each human person fully alive!” (Ireanaus, a Father of the early Church) Yes, celebrate the God-within you becoming manifest to and for others. At home and in your ministry environment BE a sheltering tree for others to come and rest…to be nurtured…to be listened to…to find their own creative potential. “The smallest of all seeds … when it has grown … is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree.” The parable goes on to say that this becoming a mature tree is ‘so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” Mature stages of spiritual growth bring forth healing powers for the care and blessing of others. Consider how healing and comfort goes forth from you? Let us be vessels of spiritual generativity for each other. Let us contribute to the building up of the kingdom of God by being seeds that mature into fine mustard TREES.



Carrying Grace    Be a sheltering tree for others to come and rest and be.                                                                                                       




#4 Ailbe 2013-10-11 11:16
Thanking God for this wonderful gift offered to us .
How do I finf the programme of this year on the Maximes , my mail has been hacked and I have lost the whole of the lessons.
Thank you and many blessing on this work for the Kingdom. Ailbe
#3 arletteh 2011-07-21 17:43
this common pain,we surrender to our own pain----You encouraged us, rosemary, to watch for the little things. How joyfully they enliven us:the little toddler who now waves when she and her Mom pass by;the eager young new clerk in the store who was so accomodating;th e conversation with the mobility challenged man;the shared dessert, a sign of reconciliation! Oh yes,Gratitude is a great "grounder" also!With so immense a Thank You!
#2 arletteh 2011-07-21 17:37
The Gospels of this summer, with their emphasis on seeds, sown in the dark of the earth, finding their unique pattern of growth, seeking the light, inching their way upward, growing as they go, has brought me to meditate on being rooted, grounded, the place of indestroyable authenticity., that base for the peace that passes understanding. I look out at the aged oak tree beside our house and marvel at its steadfastness through yet another storm. At times, when I have overcome yet another obstacle, I, too feel rooted firmly in the depths of the soil.-- At this time of my life, the grounding comes through a gift that has been deepened in me, the gift of compassion. I reviewed and meditated on the beautiful lesson 36 of the Medaille Online course. One line struck me above all: “Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.” It is the realizing that all humanity inevitably will suffer, that opens us up to the pain in others. And in that moment of recognition of this common pain, we surrender to our own pain.--- You encouraged us, rosemary, to watch for the little things. How joyfully they enliven us: the little toddler who now looks to wave when she and her Mom pass by; the eager, new young clerk in the store being so accommodating; the conversation with the mobility challenged man; the shared dessert that was a sign of reconciliation! Oh, yes, and gratitude is also a wonderful “grounder”!
#1 arletteh 2011-07-17 19:28
Thank you so much, Rosemary:will use the reflections for a retreat of a few days, and will post later in the week!

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