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A homily reminded Rachel Watkins of a children's song that speaks to a deeper spiritual truth.

I once heard a homily where we were reminded that God loves a faith whose growth is measured in inches as much as faith that grows by leaps and bounds. We were reminded that while God may give us the grace to leap over our sins, it is in the smallest details of our lives that we find real opportunities to see God and turn from sin; step by step, bit by bit. The priest was offering real words of encouragement as we move through life. Don’t be discouraged, he said, when we feel as if our growth in holiness has grown stagnant. Stay strong, we were told, as the greatest growth can come at the smallest pace. Just keep your eyes on Jesus and He will help you get the work done.

Driving home after Mass a song began to sprout from my childhood memories:


This old folk song known commonly as "The Garden Song" has a variety of versions and has sung by several artists, with including the late John Denver. Another favorite line reminds us to: “Plant your rows straight and long / Temper them with prayer and song.”

This homily came back to my memory recently as I found myself weary of Lent and only two weeks in! As I reflected on my attitude I recognized it was due in large part to the weather and lack of sunshine in general.

In the midst of winter, it appears as if there is nothing growing and all is gone. But, appearances can be deceiving can’t they? With grey skies and brown yards, it is so easy to forget all the wonderful work that is going on underneath, deep in the earth - unseen.

Stuck in my dreary mood, I was surprised when that song from my childhood came to whisper in my ear and with that song came the homily from Fr. Frank. My prayer time was suddenly full of images of gardens, seeds and small acts of faith.

Don’t forget the strength in the small acts, the littlest of things: actions as small as seeds. #catholicmom

With this is mind, I recalled one of the first readings of Lent when Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:1, “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them.” Lent is, after all, the time when we are called to work on ourselves and work for others without drawing attention to our efforts. Our work is then much like that of the seeds; hidden but there nonetheless. It wasn’t hard at all to see my soul as a seed with Jesus as the Master Gardener. Didn’t Mary Magdalen think just this as she stood outside the empty tomb?

But, in my mood I could only see myself as the seeds fallen on the rough path of Matthew 13 when that old homily came to mind. Don’t forget the strength in the small acts, the littlest of things: actions as small as seeds.

And in reading further we come to this:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32).

Small seeds and small acts have a good deal in common as both can grow into something spectacular and Lent is perfect time to think about both. Thank you, Fr. Frank for the homily that planted a long forgotten seed in my soul. I’m also grateful for that song from my youth. I’m letting the song inspire my other Lenten practices as it tells about "pulling weeds and pickin’ stones” which easily becoming my bad habits and sin patterns.

And while the song asks “someone bless these seeds I sow,” I know who that ‘someone’ is. It will be the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit who will bless, watch and water all of my efforts; inch by inch, row by row helping my soul to grow.

seedlings growing in rows of peat pots

Copyright 2021 Rachel Watkins
Image: Pixabay (2020)