My fields are vast, and yet small. My plot is so tiny, in fact, that you would think that it would be quite mangeable. But there, you would be wrong.
The climate and conditions my plot is set down in is ever changing. And if I take my eye off of it, or let my mind wander, it gets overrun with weeds. Or worse yet? It becomes dry, parched, and rock hard.
As a result, I always have to attend to it carefully, both before and after planting.
Because God keeps sowing seeds in it, I have to keep the furrows supple and moist, so the seeds will have a chance to grow. If I neglect my work, the result will be like that tale of the sower whose seed fell among thorns, on hardened paths, and onto rocky soil. For my plot contains varying degrees of all these types of soil, and I must constantly work to make the whole plot suitable for planting.
It’s tough work, especially when you consider all of the birds, rabbits, and other pests who work like mad on ruining that which has been planted in hope of fruitful harvests.
When it get’s dry, I have to irrigate the soil. When my plow hits a heavy rock, I must remove it. And when the earth hardens, I have to break up the clods and prepare it for planting again.
Folks who aren’t familiar with working the land probably think this is tedious, thankless, toil. Or they may believe that it is just seasonal work, where you’re very busy in the Spring and Fall, a mere caretaker during the Summer, and then totally unoccupied in the Winter. But every season has it’s portion of work allotted to it.
A plowman is always busy working his plot, braving the elements, tending the crops, and gathering in the harvest, if there is one. And if not? Perhaps enjoying the fruits of labor in the field is enough.
The job as a plowman is a simple one, though keeping the land productive is extremely difficult. But the fruits of this work is love, a return to God of his very self.
I mentioned my plot is both vast and small. But it is also as deep as a well. Some days the rains come, and then work is one of quiet repose with thankfulness for life giving water offered up to God.
There is ample work to be done in this small field of mine, seeking the kingdom of heaven that rests within it.
The work reminds me of a story the Desert Fathers told,
“However much you may toil in scattering seed on the path that you walk on, not a green leaf will grow. As well, as much as you labor to cultivate a heart weighed-down with worldly cares, you toil in vain; it is impossible to foster virtues there.”
So it goes in the fields of my heart these days, and hopefully for all the days of my life to come. I keep working the soil on my own little plot. Pulling weeds, removing thistles, and ridding the land of all that stifles growth so the work done is not in vain.