(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Tuesday morning, 15 March 2016)
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of a loving God.
This past weekend was the beginning – the weekend where the earth warms with spring and everything smells new and sweet and is filled with life.
As I ran through my neighborhood this weekend, I couldn’t help but notice all the people out gardening. It reminded me of an incident that occurred about ten years ago in which my family made some poor planting decisions. We were late in our gardening that year, but still determined to recreate the garden we had produced the previous years. My father went to the florist for advice and seeds.
“This late in the season, you’ll have to go with some easy-growers. Tomato will work. And probably this…” the florist said, handing my father a packet of habanero pepper seeds.
We planted and they grew, and by mid-summer we had a vibrant harvest of bright red tomatoes and orange habaneros. But we soon discovered the peppers were far too hot for human consumption. My father was the first to bite into one. Almost immediately beads of sweat formed on his reddening face. He spat it out quickly. “No one eat those!” he warned.
So we left the peppers where they were and harvested the tomatoes until the autumn. When the leaves began to change color and collect on the ground, we traded our shovels for rakes and began the task of clearing the yard and the garden. As was typical, we raked everything into one giant pile in the middle of the back yard. In true fall fashion, some of my brothers ran and jumped into the pile. They threw handfuls of leaves at each other, had leaping contests, and then we picked up the leaves with gloved hands, placed the contents in the leaf bags and brought them to the front of the house. As we entered the house to rest from our labors, my brothers began to wince.
“What’s wrong?” my dad asked concerned and confused by their sudden onset of pain.
“I feel like my skin is on fire,” replied one of them through gritted teeth.
“Yeah, and my eyes,” said the other rubbing them both with his hands.
“Oh no,” my dad said, “The peppers!”
The peppers we had never harvested had dried on the vine and fallen to the ground, only to be raked up with the leaves. Their potency had come back to haunt us.
Sometimes we forget what seeds we plant. Every decision holds consequences. We must always bear in mind that we are responsible for our actions. And we must not act out of ignorance. Sure, for my family it was just a matter of peppers. We wanted something to grow and we knew that habanero would but we didn’t know that that would mean. In life, if we are not careful, if we do not investigate what sort of repercussions our choices will yield, we can end up hurting others or ourselves.
Every day we each encounter the easy way. We can find ourselves tempted to plant the seeds that will be easiest to grow, to tell the lie that will get us out of trouble, to copy someone’s homework because we totally forgot to do it ourselves, to remain silent as our friends tell racist jokes, to watch our peers bully others. But in each of these scenarios there are also more challenges choices we can make. Choices which may not seem well timed for our popularity, comfort, grades, or status. But whichever road we choose we must also bear in mind that we plant seeds every day. And while at times we may feel the effort is not worth it to cultivate the choice worth making – the more difficult choice – we must always remember that what we do or don’t do – say or don’t say – we are responsible for what grows and blooms and burns.
Let us pray,
Heavenly Father, guide us not to plant the seeds of convenience. And if we do, help us to deal with the consequences responsibility. As we make choices each day, give us the strength to do what it right – even though it is seldom easy.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts… forever.
Emily McLean–English Teacher