Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Twilight Years of Life (07/02/09)
TITLE: Cultivating Our Heart
By Allen Stark
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Everybody in this farming area knows that you harvest what you’ve sown. If they don't, they better forget about farming. However, strangely enough, what we know about cultivating the land, we often tend to forget when it comes to cultivating our heart.
My maternal grandmother, who lived in Oregon most of her life, had a small greenhouse that was built by my grandfather. My brother and I would spend spring vacations and part of our summers with them. During our stays, grandma, who had at one time been an elementary school teacher, would always find ways of teaching us things about life. The spring following my fourteenth birthday we were helping grandma plant some seeds in her greenhouse beds.
Grandfather had built the greenhouse with state-of-the-art equipment in order to create the ideal structure for growth. The atmosphere was perfect. The lighting exactly what was needed. The temperature suited for growing anything desired—an ideal setting for one of grandma's lessons on life.
One day grandma asked my brother and I to go out and collect some seeds to plant. We had always thought grandma bought her seeds at the gardening center and wondered why she was asking us to go out into the nearby wooded area and collect seeds. Now mind you she did not ask us to collect seeds from flowers and fruit. Instead she asked us to collect seeds from weeds. Crab grass seeds, dandelion seeds, and grass burr seeds.
She gave us each a small bag and told us to fill them. As we were leaving to collect the weed seeds, I just had to ask, but in a nice way, “Grandma, I thought you planted only nice fruit and flowers in your greenhouse?”
Grandma responded in a way that made my brother and I begin to seriously doubt her sanity. “Do you know how much those seeds cost?” she asked. “Besides I would have to drive all the way into town to buy them.” As we turned to walk away, we noticed a smile on her face.
After gathering our weed seeds, we hesitantly returned to the greenhouse and saw that Grandma had cleared a spot on the outside of the greenhouse. Upon seeing us returning, she met us at the door of the greenhouse.
“Don't bring those seeds in here!” grandma exclaimed as she stepped toward us, taking our bags of seed. She then led us to the place next to the greenhouse which she had tilled. “Here is where we are going to plant these seeds,” she stated and began scattering the seeds in a small patch of tilled ground. After covering the seeds, she watered and spread a small amount of compost over them.
Grandma then led us back inside the greenhouse and asked us to sit down next to the area she had prepared for her flowers and fruit seed. She then proceeded to give us one of the most important life applications I can ever remember receiving. She said, “Think for a moment of your heart as a greenhouse. Now consider that your thoughts are like seeds. What kind of thoughts are you going to sow into your heart? Remember that some thoughts can become weeds and others can become flowers and fruit. You will harvest what you plant.”
Why is it that some people have the capacity to resist negativism and are patient, optimistic, and forgiving? Could it be that they have sown seeds of goodness. And then, ever wonder why others have such a sour outlook on life? Could it be they have sown weeds and thorns in the greenhouse of their heart?
Shouldn't we be selective about the seeds we allow to come into our greenhouse? Shouldn't there be a sentry at the door, like my grandmother who wouldn't allow the weeds inside her greenhouse? Shouldn't there be a sentry at the door of our hearts and shouldn't we make sure there is one posted at the doors of our children's hearts?
By the way, that next summer when my brother and I returned to grandma's house, she took us out to the area beside the greenhouse where she had planted the weed seeds. There we saw a mixture of weeds and thorns, which, had there not been the protection of the greenhouse wall, would have invaded and overtaken the beautiful flowers and fruit growing inside the greenhouse. Oh what beautiful things we can learn from those in the twilight years of life!
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