Neither of us had been to the northern plains before Abby went to North Dakota last week, so I took great interest when she described the vast grassland and the dark, rich soil. Then I wondered aloud, “How did the soil get so fertile, and why are there no trees?” What perfect provision for farming.
Then I thought about this in relation to a familiar passage about hearing God’s Word–it came up at Wednesday’s Mass:
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
Before I say something about this passage, let me tell you that I never fully solved the mystery about how we got fertile plains without trees. The closest I got is this description from a Wikipedia contributor:
During the Miocene and Pliocene epochs, the continental climate became favorable to the evolution of grasslands. Existing forest biomes declined and grasslands became much more widespread.
OK–so at one point, this just happened. But there are still no tress and a lot of land ready for farming.
This brings us to the mystery of how the soil becomes rich in our hearts, ready for God’s Word. Elsewhere, Jesus says that no one can come to him unless the Father draws him (Jn 6:44). Why do some have rich soil and not others?
This past week a woman told me that she had no interest in church while growing up. “But now,” she said, “I want to learn.” So somehow, fertile soil for God’s Word just happened later in life.
Well so be it. We do know this much: the soil needs to be cultivated. At some point, we’re moved to cry out, “O God, speak to me! Show me my sin and lead me in the way of understanding!” (c.f. Ps 139:24) God always answers this kind of earnest prayer so that seeds of new life will grow.
When was the last time you prayed like that? Keep it up. Each day, we’re called to cultivate rich soil for God’s Word so we can lead others to the same.