Seed planting

It’s spring, so I’m thinking about planting seedlings. Nothing very exotic – spreading petunias for the pots on the veranda, colour undecided, and something colourful in the two long planting boxes that will also discourage roving rabbits and possums from Seede plantingvisiting. Aside from a couple of seasonal re-plantings, that’s about all. Except maybe for fun, I’ll pot my hand-out Woollies seeds and watch them grow.

While the eucalypts in my little valley are a delight to the eye, the ground beneath my feet is rocky – literally – hence the pots. Spiritually speaking, it’s healthy to accept that the ground beneath one’s feet is the now, the place and time where we belong, where God is. But gardening-wise the ground beneath my feet doesn’t support growing anything much – except onion weed and a variety of imported weeds. So I combine these two concepts and tell myself that It’s OK if sometimes there’s not a lot of colour and growth in my life.

We plant seeds and they don’t always grow. I’ve always been a seed planter – you have to be if you are a teacher, or write spirituality, or are a parent. Parents do an awful lot of seed planting, all kinds of seeds. They implant Gospel values every time they insist that their children treat each other with respect. With the repetitive “Have you cleaned your teeth?” they instil hygiene practices that they hope will last a lifetime. Ecologically they encourage practices that plant seeds of hope for the world that their children will inherit.

It’s the seed parables that keep me going when my carefully chosen word-seeds float off into the space that is the internet, seeds that seemingly never finding ground, but occasionally do take root in fertile soil.
The sower went forth to sow.
and some seed fell on the wayside
Some fell amongst thistles
Some fell on stony soil
Some seed produced a fine harvest and some gradually withered in the hot sun.

It’s the Jesus’ seed stories that come to mind when I see hundreds of young people gathering for a climate change protest. Who planted these seeds – teachers, social media, parents? It doesn’t seem to have been politicians.  Climate change 2

Those teenagers with their creatively worded banners are planting seeds in people like me, challenging me in ways that I find uncomfortable because I have been so complacent for so long. They wouldn’t see what they did as having anything to do with religion, but I see it as the Spirit of God, breathing life seeds into a world that needs to hear them.

In the words of Archbishop Oscar Romero:
I plant seeds that one day will grow.
I water seeds already planted.
I lay foundations that will need development.
I provide the yeast that produces effects far beyond my capabilities.
I am a prophet of a future not my own.

And as Jesus said, “And the sower went on sowing.“

Judith Scully

Read more about spring :  Spring mindfulness – Australian style

 

In praise of young dads

Monday, 9th September, at 7.30,
I will be the guest speaker at
Spirituality in the Pub at the Jamberoo hotel.

Topic: The Time is Now and We are Here

If you live in that part of NSW I’d love to meet you there.

Tim and Harry adjusted

I admire young dads. The ones I’m familiar with are very comfortable playing with their children, changing nappies, reading bedtime stories and handling toddler insubordination. The men in earlier generations were probably just as busy as fathers today, but they gave an impression of distance- a ‘Just you wait till your father comes home’ distance. Hugs were seen as unmanly and love a four letter word that was best left unspoken.

Changes in society, the rise of feminism and the intermingling of cultures have all contributed to the way young men perceive parenting in today’s society. Parenting at its best is assumed to be a responsibility shared by a woman and a man. This involves lots of negotiation, from decisions about how much time can be allotted to adult male sporting pursuits, to a united approach on issues from toddler tantrums through to door-slamming adolescent rebellion and how many Christmas presents are too many.

Much is expected of Australian fathers today. I have known four generations of men who were fathers. My one and only grandfather believed that children could be seen but definitely not heard. No grandfatherly hugs to be found there!

Right up to the time I left home for the convent, his eldest son, my father, was just dad; he went to work, he drove the car, he barracked for Fitzroy, he paid for my Catholic education, went to Mass every Sunday and spent a lot of time protecting Australia from a supposed communist threat, instead of trying to share some of the differing interests of his three sons. Not so long ago I heard my then two year old grandson calling “daddy, daddy” as the garage door signalled that his dad was back from cricket training, I wondered what it would have been like if my father and I had shared a similar bond all those years ago.

When we are young we might yearn for a father who thinks that we are the most wonderful person in the world – even when we obviously weren’t – a father who always has time listen to our joys, our triumphs, our confusions, our heartbreaks. This ideal father would gently and persuasively shares his wisdom, hold us in a bear hug and send us back to our daily routines and commitments with a renewed strength and purpose.

Previous generation fathering wasn’t always the kind of hands-on love that lingers in the memory. Neither my dad, nor later on my brothers were as hands-on and loving as the young men who are today’s fathers. I might be looking at this through rose coloured glasses, but it’s my belief that these young men are more able to talk openly about the joys and struggles of family life. As a result their parenting seems more unselfish and in touch with the needs of children.

My father’s great grandchildren are growing up in an environment where their father is a loving centre and role model. It’s a more relaxed kind of fathering and it’s a great gift to their children. So on Father’s Day when all you dads receive lovingly wrapped ‘men-presents’, know and believe that it is in appreciation of the gift you are.

                                         Judith Scully (judith@judithscully.com.au)