Children’s Chat: Nurturing love takes work!

The only one that made it from seed (photo by Martin Malina 13 May 2023

Years ago, my daughter received a package of ten seeds — ten spruce tree seeds.

So, we found a large pot, filled it with good soil and planted the seeds evenly apart in the pot. We followed the instructions on how to care for growing these seeds. We watered the earth. We left the pot in the sun.

But later that year, we noticed only three seedlings coming out of the earth. Only three of the ten seeds sprouted and began to grow.

The following year, I transplanted the three saplings into separate pots so each would have its own space to grow. But, alas, over several days we left them in direct sunlight outside for too long! Two of the three saplings turned brown and died.

Only one of the ten seeds that we had originally planted, made it. Today, it is about three feet tall and growing well in our backyard (photo above). It has a good chance of maturing even though I still give it extra water from time to time.

Today is Mother’s Day. Specifically, though we give thanks for our mothers we also express thanks for all the caregivers in our lives who love us and nurture our growth. Growing flower or tree seeds can remind us that nurturing love takes a lot of work!

Nurturing love is NOT planting a seed and just leaving it alone. Nurturing love, which is God’s love, means hard work and trusting that the seed of faith within in us all will grow.

My daughter and I, admittedly, were a bit lazy at times growing and caring for those ten seeds. Sometimes we didn’t do it the right way. We made some mistakes along the way.

But I am grateful that every time I can look at that one spruce tree that did make it I am reminded of both the hard work it takes to grow seeds to life, and the gift of life and love that God gives.

Here are some packages of flower seeds. You can give them to your moms or other caregivers. Help them plant the seeds this Spring. Take care of them. And watch them grow!

Let us pray: Dear God, thank you for the gifts of love and life. Help the seeds of love and life grow in me. Help us all learn to trust in those gifts to do their job in time. Amen.

An Epiphany reflection

Two kings stand amid the sand dunes under the star speckled desert sky dressed in their regal attire. Their camels peer over their shoulders at the third ‘wise man’ holding the hand of Frankenstein. Yes, Frankenstein. 

The two confront the third, pointing accusatory fingers at what they do not understand: “Right, we’ve picked up the gold and the myrrh … What on earth is THAT?!”

We know the story (Matthew 2) of the magi who visited the infant Jesus bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Yes, frankincense. 

We might have an idea of what gold is. But frankincense and myrrh? Basically, these are fragrant spices. But they are not the kind of gifts we would normally give anyone today, let alone a king or queen, president or prime minister. Because we are not familiar with these kinds of gifts, we get tripped up over the words and confuse them with other things. Today we know more about Frankenstein than we do about frankincense. Yet, in Jesus’ day, these were very special gifts.

Let me show you a gift I received this Christmas season. It is three bars of hand-made soap. One of the bars of soap actually has gold flecks in it, as well as frankincense and myrrh essential oils. It is called the “Gift of the Magi Soap”. I suppose there are other things about this gift that can remind me of God, the Christmas story, and the reason Jesus came to the world. 

For example, three bars of soap stand for the Trinity: God is the Father who created everything and everyone; Jesus is the Son who came to wash us clean from our sin; and the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to be the people God has called us to be — to love and care for all people. Of course, the three bars also remind me of the three wise men bearing their special gifts for the baby Jesus.

These days, we will not bring frankincense or myrrh to give to Jesus. Some may bring gold. But the point is not what kind of gift it is. It is that we are willing to bring something special from our own lives to give back to God. It is our offering, whatever it is — our love, our passions, our money, our time, our talents. Maybe even myrrh and frankincense, who knows? 

In this new year, let’s spend some time first thinking about what we can give to God. And then do it. We don’t need to be kings, queens, presidents or prime ministers to give anything of value to Jesus. Because in our baptism we are all princes and princesses in God’s kingdom. And, because our various gifts are important to Jesus and his mission on earth today.