There is a parable in the Christian New Testament telling the story of someone sowing seeds (see Matthew 13:1-9). Sowing is an agricultural term referring to the hand movement of liberally planting or spreading of seeds in anticipation of a crop or harvest of fruit.
I found this to be a helpful metaphor, an invigorating thought as I prepared for my daily work as a Chaplain. I saw myself as the sower; the soil as the hearts of the patients, families and staff I will encounter during the day; and the seed are the words that I speak.
In one scene, the Sower liberally spreads seed on the path. The path is so hard the seeds are not able to go beneath the surface. The seeds are eaten by the birds of the air.
In scene two, the Sower liberally spreads seed on a rocky path. The soil is softer but covered with rocks. Plants sprang up but the heat of the sun scorched them because there was no depth to their roots. The plants withered and died.
In Scene three, the Sower liberally spreads seed on soil where thorny weeds grow. Both plants come up together but the thorny weeds choke the life from the plants and they yield no fruit.
In the fourth and final scene, the Sower liberally spreads on good soil. And beautiful plants grow producing multiple harvests.
As Chaplains, we share words with people every day. People overhear our conversations when we speak on our cell phones, in the cafeteria and elevators. We spread words liberally throughout our day. The question is what kind of fruit do our words yield?
We cannot control the condition of the hearts of people we encounter. Their hearts may be rock-hard and impenetrable by our words. The condition of another heart may be rocky. It could be broken and our words can only slip in the cracks. The rocks remaining on the surface are the painful sores that remain long after their dreams have crumbled. Another heart may indeed receive our words, but the unresolved conflict of broken relationships has left behind bitter emotion acting as thorny weeds choking all new growth. But the final heart has been plowed, cleared of rocks and weeds, and is ready for planting and harvest.
As we approach our new day let us be mindful of the new opportunity to sow seeds of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control into the lives of all that we meet. Let us sow liberally into the lives of all we meet. Let us anticipate a harvest of great fruit that continues to bless others. Let us embrace the joy of harvest in the lives of all we encounter. Let us be busy Sowers of good words.
-Reflection by a UCSF Chaplain