Crocuses and snowdrops are blooming; the tulips and daffodils and hyacinths are on their way, and it’s been time to start seedlings for awhile now. I haven’t yet; it hasn’t made it on my to do list, and so, I only remember as I fall asleep in bed, and think “Whoops…tomorrow.” I’m a few tomorrows in.
So I’ve been thinking about the trays in the shed and what growing matrix to use, and the like. Nouwen talks about this, too, although only in metaphor. Here’s a passage from Here and Now, taken from pages 95 & 96 of that work. He writes about a reality that faces many of us, and our responsibility given the place in which we find ourselves.
We cannot live a spiritual life alone. The life of the Spirit is alike a seed that needs fertile ground to grow. This fertile ground includes not only a good inner disposition, but also a supportive milieu.
It is very hard to live a life of prayer in a milieu where no one prayers or speaks lovingly about prayer. it is nearly impossible to deepen our communion with God when those with whom we live and work reject or even ridicule the idea that there is a loving God. it is a super-human task to keep setting our hearts on the kingdom when all those whom we know and talk with are setting their hearts on everything but the Kingdom.
It is not surprising that people who live in a secular milieu–where God’s name is never mentioned, prayer unknown, the Bible never read, and conversation about the life of the Spirit completely absent–cannot sustain their communion with God for very long. I have discovered how sensitive I am to the milieu in which I live. With my community, words about GOd’ presence in our life come spontaneously and with great ease. However, when I join in a business meeting in downtown Toronto or keep company with those who work with AIDS patients, a conversation about God often creates embarrassment or even anger and generally ends up in a debate about the pros and cons of religion that leaves everybody unhappy.
When we are serious about living a spiritual life we are responsible for the milieu where it con grow and mature. Although we might not be able to create the ideal context for a life in the Spirit, we have many more options than we claim for ourselves. We can choose friends, books, churches, art, music, places to visit, and people to be with that, taken together, offer a milieu that allows the mustard seed that God has sown in us to grow into a strong tree.
I appreciate the empowerment in this passage. Nouwen’s so right: we can rarely “create the ideal context for a life in the Spirit,” and yet, we do often too-quickly toss our hands in the air and just give up. How have you made the most of the milieu you find yourself in so that you can grow in a deepening trust in, awareness of, and obedience to God? Where do you get the nourishment your “seed of faith” needs to grow?