It was a blistering July afternoon;
I sat on rough pavement wearing jeans,
a long sleeved shirt and heavy gardener’s gloves,
and sweat created swatches of salt on them
as I painstakingly pulled weeds
from a long row of prickly pear cactus.
Though I was as careful as a cat among sleeping dogs,
thorns found their way through and into my flesh.
It took weeks to pluck them all out.
Beloved, can a seed sown amongst thorns grow?[i]
If it chokes, can it be saved by removing the thorns?
Can it bring fruit to perfection?
A dear friend, once rich in spirit, now withers
amongst the cares of this world,
covered in the thorns of life all around him.
I know him, Lord. I saw him come to life in You.
He was alive, I tell you.
I think he lives still,
but I have to dig among the thorns to find him.
Debt, a bad marriage, sickness and addiction
choke the breath of Spirit right out of him.
When You sat with me once by the fire,
You pointed out that these things can happen
to any one of us,
but if we seek the Kingdom of Heaven first,
thorns transform into flowers.
You told me the story of a prophet
who traveled many miles to reach a village.
A villager looked down and saw the prophet barefoot,
then saw from whence he came, and asked
“How could you walk barefoot
over that plain full of sharp rocks?”
The prophet blinked and answered, “What?
He was so transfigured from communion with God
he did not notice such trifling things.
Now that I ponder our conversation
and apply it to my friend,
the answers are clear.
Seed sown amongst the wayside usually die
unless they are carried by bird or wind
to fertile ground.
Those sown amid rocks usually spring up
and soon wither from lack of moisture,
but I have seen trees grow between boulders
and shrug them off like flies.
Those sown in a thorn patch usually choke,
but when the gardener is called they can thrive.
The newborn plant can easily die
no matter the environment.
Yet it rains on all, the sun shines on all.
Pray to the One in whom all things are possible.
If in the road pray for the wind.
If in rock, pray for strong roots.
If in thorns, pray for the Gardener.
Keep in communion with the seed Maker
and it won’t matter where you grow.
[i] Luke 8:7 Luke 8:14