"Wouldn't it be nice," he said, looking over the mountain range stretching across the clear blue sky, "if we could get our acreage out here? Like, same set up and buildings, same house, same size, for the same price? And with the same soil, too."
It wasn't the first time I'd heard it.
We're really enjoying this Colorado adventure of ours- interesting jobs, the chance to meet people from all over, the beautiful views- but I do feel a little homesick for our little Iowa acreage.
I love our acreage. The pond, the long pasture grass, worn red barn wood, my yellow kitchen with the original hardwood floors... it's home.
And while I agree that it would be pretty awesome if we could find the same thing out here in Iowa, I can't help but be amused by my husband's way of thinking.
The soil. He'd want the same soil.
You can take the farm boy away from his dirt, but you can't take the dirt out of the mind of the farm boy, I suppose.
And it's just another one of those things that I'm now surprisingly familiar with... the city-girl inside of me shakes her head that I know exactly what he means. Soil is important.
As I write this, I'm looking out the window of our Colorado home, with snow melted away by the unusually warm weather this week, seeing the scrubby tufts of grass and the low lying shrubs in our yard. Nothing like the lush green of back in Iowa-- and it's because of the soil.
It's rocky here- dry, rocky, sandy-colored instead of the dark black richness of back in Iowa.
It makes a difference. There's a reason Iowa farmland produces so much and farms are few here where we are in Colorado. The soil.
In the gospel of Mark, the disciples have been barely appointed when they come to Jesus with a question.
What's with all the parables?
They've been observing Jesus's teaching method for a while, most of them, and they've noticed a pattern.
The crowds pressing in on Jesus are here because he's told them that the Kingdom has come-- and they're waiting for something big and dramatic. Rousing speeches, riots in the streets, government overthrow.
And instead, he's telling stories.
In all honesty, they probably thought he was kind of screwing things up. The crowds were getting smaller when they realized this Jesus guy wasn't what they expected.
So after a particularly hum-drum parable about a simple farmer sowing seeds, they ask him.
Jesus tells them his master plan-- The parables are supposed to confuse and turn away the people "on the outside," the people who have their own expectations of the Kingdom and don't want to hear what Jesus has to say if it isn't exactly what they wanted.
It all depends on the soil.
Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?" - Mark 4:13
Jesus asks a very important question- what is your soil like?
So many of the people who followed Jesus around the countryside and listened to his stories were like the hard ground of the path. On the outskirts, curious about this Jesus guy, but not particularly interested in changing their lives to really meet him. The Word hits the ground and bounces, not taking root, not sinking in. Satan whispers lies in their ears- This doesn't apply to you, though... You're not really that bad of a person... This man is just the son of a carpenter, what does he know... and the seed never takes root and never makes a difference.
Others in the crowd had rocky soil. Quickly they accepted the Word, quickly they decided to follow, and just as quickly, their zeal withers and fades. Shallow, experience-driven faith that doesn't take root and transform the soil... here today and gone tomorrow.
And then there are those who have thorny soil- and this is the state in which I find my heart far too often. The Word is planted, takes root, grows deep. But the things that creep up in life choke out the good plant and limit the fruit. Priorities get mixed up and worries become too much. Slowly slowly, things that take up time and mental energy replace the Word and the Good News that Jesus is enough.
And then there's the good soil. The rich black dirt of a heart ready and willing and open. These are the hearts that would accept, would seek the truth in the parables Jesus told. These are the ones who would produce good fruit.
It all comes down to the soil- to the state of our hearts. To really understand what Jesus came to say, the stories he told, the commandments he set forth, our hearts have to be ready for it. The dirt has to be ready.
As I look out at the rocky soil out the window, I whisper a prayer that God would keep my heart soft, rich, ready. That I'd be open to receive the Good News God has for me.
May the Word grow deep roots, may it reach the sunshine, may it transform and produce fruit in me.
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