Today's Post is from contributor Micalagh Beckwith Moritz.
In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good. (Ecc. 11:6, ESV)
At the end of the school year, I was having a conversation with a teacher at one of the schools where I worked as a social worker. We were talking about a student who has had a difficult year academically, and was struggling to keep up with her classmates. She had been in danger of failing fifth grade. I inquired about whether or not she had passed in the end. "Yes, I passed her on," the teacher replied, and started walking away.
He stopped for a moment and turned back to look at me to further explain,
"You can plant seeds at the same time, but they won't all come up at the same time."
His words seemed to echo in the empty hallway, and I savored them, committing them to memory.
Later that same day, I had the chance to participate in planting seeds in more ways than one, bringing a deepened meaning to the wise teacher's response.
I attended the Joshua Group end-of-the-year picnic. The Joshua Group is an at-risk youth mentoring organization located in the impoverished Allison Hill neighborhood of the City of Harrisburg. Both my husband and I have worked there. At the picnic were many of the youth and families who participate in the tutoring program. It has become a tradition to plant flowers in the nearby Catholic Worker garden with the youth. This began spontaneously about three years ago when I was working for the Joshua Group. My friend who runs the Catholic Worker House had plants to put in the garden. So the Joshua Group kids and I helped to plant and water the garden with enthusiasm, and it became something I (and the kids!) looked forward to each year.
This year, as I opened packets of seeds, the youth had their hands outstretched, eager to participate in this act of faith.
We scattered wildflower seeds around the soil. We hoped that the rain would come when necessary, that the sun would provide sustenance, that the seeds planted would set roots down, deep into the soil.
I planted seeds with these students, and I trust that the flowers will emerge at the right time.
In working with youth in the city for roughly the past six years, I have had many joys and many challenges. I have had to be content with doing often hard work without knowing what the results might be. As Dorothy Day, cofounder of the Catholic Worker movement said,
"Don't worry about being effective, just concentrate on being faithful to the truth."
I have been tested and have had to learn this over and over again, as all of us people of faith must do wherever we are rooted. We plant the seeds, we water them, but we do not always know how or when they will produce. That is where the trust comes in.
After six years of planting in Harrisburg, my husband and I have moved to Belize, making a drastic change in our lives. We will not be here to see all the flowers that come from the seeds we have planted. But we plant them anyway and we keep trusting. And we believe that others will continue planting in our absence.
Even better, we believe that the youth themselves will continue to plant seeds that will sprout hope and faith and harvest beauty wherever they are.
Micalagh is a social worker, writer, wife, sister, daughter, community member, continually learning how to do a better job at each of these roles. She is always contemplating how to love others better and to enjoy the small things of life; to see God in everything and everyone. She loves cheese, speaking French, and experiencing different cultures. Micalagh blogs at Only Small Things.