The crepe myrtles in our church square have gone through a few tough years. It seems they were infected with tiny insects that cause a whitish gray bark scale.
We became aware of the problem last summer and have taken steps to help our trees and shrubs become healthier. We have also begun paying closer attention to caring for all the trees on our beautiful square.
We can plant those trees and shrubs and flowers. We can fertilize them. We can water them. We can prune them. But we cannot make them grow. We cannot make them bloom.
God makes things grow. God makes things bloom. God makes things spring to new life. The same is true of the crops in our fields.
The farmers can till the soil. The farmers can plant the seeds. The farmers can fertilize. And the farmers can harvest. But those farmers cannot make those crops grow. Only God can.
So as we set out on our spiritual renewal, we must look to the things we can do. And leave the things we cannot do to God.
We can sow the seeds. But what kinds of seeds are we sowing. Are we sowing seeds of love and kindness? Seeds of generosity? Seeds of care and concern? Seeds of forgiveness and mercy?
This takes willpower. We have to want to do these things. We can and should be sowing good seeds.
We can nurture what was planted. We can water and fertilize and prune. This takes work. We have to work at these things.
We can and should be taking good care of our bodies: Proper diet. Exercise. The right amount of sleep.
We can and should be taking good care of our souls: Spiritual readings. Quiet prayer. Spiritual direction. Retreats. Regular confessions.
We can harvest what is ripe. We can enjoy the fruits of our labor: The good fruit that comes from sowing good seeds. The ripe grain that comes from nurturing what was sown.
We can be nourished by the Eucharist where Jesus gives us his body and blood as a rich harvest for our souls.
We can enjoy our lives and our loved one as a result of all our hard work taking good care of our bodies and souls. Because we have done what we can, God can do what God does.
Just like we are making an effort to take care of our crepe myrtles, we should be making an effort to take care of our souls, because our souls are certainly a far greater treasure than our crepe myrtles.