The life-lessons from sowing seed are endless. Not every seed we plant will grow; but nothing can grow except from seed. We should always begin then by planting what we want to grow, even if it might not come to full fruition.

“Man casts seed to the ground, when he places a good intention in his heart.” So says Gregory the Great. Then he says it again: “When therefore we conceive good desires, we put seed into the ground.”

Each formulation highlights how we can sow what will grow in our life. ‘Place a good intention.’ ‘Conceive a good desire.’

At the beginning of the season of Lent—perhaps especially for those of us who have done this a few times—we can be unsure or even skeptical of our own good desires or intentions. We have experienced before how they can fail to bear fruit, and the very memory of such still-born hopes or resolutions can stand as monument to our weakness and thus discourage us from trying again.

But aren’t there always seeds that don’t grow to fruition? Should we then stop sowing? Life depends on sowing. If what we have sown has not grown as it might, we can look again to the seed, and to our cultivation. Then at the right time, we simply sow again.

“The kingdom of God is as if a man should cast seed into the ground.” The choice is not whether to sow; it is what to sow. And now is the time for sowing.

Gregory the Great is sometimes called the ‘Doctor of Desire.’ Good desires give direction to life. They are a kind of prayer, and they are a fruit of prayer. They are a gift we receive. And they are seeds we plant. And then cultivate.

Good desires give foundation and form for Lenten resolutions. Indeed, now especially is the time for us to cast good intentions, with specific form, into the soil of our life. As in the garden, it is not first about quantity. It’s about planting the good things we might reasonably cultivate; or in any case, what we hope we can cultivate, by the grace of God. This is not an exact science. Rather it is the art of life. Our joy, privilege and responsibility is to try to sow well. Some day we might grow too old to sow seeds in the earth. But for Lenten sowing we never grow too old.

I am grateful Lent begins before spring sowing in the garden. It gives us opportunity once again to focus on the most important sowing that we can do. ~ ~ ~

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