Many months before this beautiful image was captured, a series of events took place which led up to its creation. One day, maybe it was still in the deep of winter, someone purchased some sunflower seeds. It could have been they already knew the field they wanted to sow the seeds, but maybe not. It could have been that the planting of sunflower seeds in this particular field had been an annual tradition going back generations. Or, just maybe this field had been abandoned and was fallow for many years, and finally, a young farming family purchased the land and was ready to create something new. I could go on forever, but I think you get the point. There are lots of events which bring something into being, many of which are so routine that we miss the wonder in them.
When it was time to sow the sunflower seeds, the ground had to be prepared. The sower had an expectation that, one day in the future, the seeds would sprout and grow into glorious sunflowers, filling the field from one end to the other. I'd like to think the sower had an expectation that his/her field would look exactly like this image. It would take months and it would take some effort, along with sunny days and plenty of rain, but it would happen.
Right about now, the season of spring is swirling all around us. Some of the flower bulbs I put into the ground last November are just now blooming, others are just breaking through the soil, with blooms coming in a month or so. Other bulbs, planted years ago by the former owner of my property, are also blooming. How long they have been in the ground, planted to return each year, I have no idea. But Mary, the former owner, and I shared a common expectation. If we prepare properly, good things will happen.
That preparation is critical to our success. I've been talking about seeds, flowers, and soil, but my main point is to talk about the spiritual life. As Christians, we should live in a constant state of expectation. As St. Ignatius would remind us, we can find God in all things, and God is an ever-present source of love, mercy and consolation to everyone. We can do nothing to earn that love, mercy, and consolation. God gives it freely to all who ask for it. We should live with an ongoing expectation that when we seek God with our whole heart, we will find Him with us, and He will change our lot (Jer. 29:13-14). How wonderful! Jesus tells us to "ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7). How encouraging! Jesus also says, "stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, you will be judged, and the measure which with you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:1-3). How challenging!
As the season of Lent quickly winds down towards Holy Week and Easter, let's remind ourselves that we are called to live with expectant hearts and minds, that we need to be mindful of the seeds we are planting right now, and that the mercy of God is forever available to all who call.
Let's use these last days of Lent to start tilling the soil of our lives, removing anything which may hinder the good seeds we intend to plant, so that in the months and years ahead, our lives will bear a bountiful harvest of fruit. Remember the Lords words, "It was not you who chose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit which will remain, so whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. This I command you: love one another" (John 15:16-17).
That's right, fellow pilgrims, it all comes down to love. Let's live in the hopeful expectation of both receiving and giving that love. Remember, they will know we are Christians by our love. Let's go till some soil and plant some seeds. The time is now!