I learned many beautiful things at the Jesus Retreat last weekend, but my favorite was when Father Kevin spoke about planting seeds in the earth. This, of course, is something for which my ears always perk, since God's messages to me in the Bible for the last year have been of this theme.
Father explained to us how Pope John Paul II's statement (that we would experience a new Springtime in the Church) is actually not at all opposed by Pope Benedict XVI's statement (that we will see lesser numbers of Catholics in our lifetime, but that the faith will be more intense, like that of a bud of flower, soon to open up).
He said that the two consecutive pope's messages actually compliment one another, for Springtime is not when we see a bountiful harvest; instead, it is a time where the ground is muddy, messy, and perhaps devoid of beauty except for the buds on plants which carefully hold all the beauty and power that will soon be released. Father spoke about how that--when the surface of the ground appears to have nothing on it--underneath there are seeds opening up and roots being firmly planted. Perhaps we are the seeds that will bring about this beauty!
This made me realize that--as I experience this Third Year where I am to sow, plant, and then reap--I should expect to feel the discomfort of having the soil of my soul tilled...that I should expect to see nothing upon the surface of my ground initially, and that I should expect to trudge through a little mud and messiness before I see growth and later reap a bountiful harvest.
In this Third Year, I have definitely felt the discomfort of my soil being tilled (beginning in June and climaxing in September). I have trudged through muddy ground, slipping as I go and sometimes falling. I watched as the surface of my ground has shown nothing, and I have felt discouraged.
But I am beginning to glimpse growth now. There's a sweet smell in the air that Springtime gives us with the assurance that new growth is beginning!