Matthew 13:1–9, Tend Your Garden

Verse 8: “And some of the seed fell into good soil, where it bore fruit, yielding a hundredfold, or it might be sixtyfold, or thirtyfold.”

The Parable of the Sower gives us a picture of what happens as seeds of the Self/God Within try to grow in our body-mind, that is, the totality of our self/Self as a human being. According to Carl Jung, “the body and the mind are the same thing, just different densities of the same energy.”

The seeds that fall into “good soil” grow; those that fall along the “footpath, rocky ground, and among thistles” do not grow to maturity. Considered symbolically, each of these conditions represents a state of consciousness within the psyche that either facilitates the manifestation of the Divine Self or thwarts it.

Our psyche is the garden whose soil we must till, fertilize, weed, water, and harvest! Symbolically, the good soil is the body-mind that is open and receptive to the seeds of the Self/God Within as they appear.

The ego/self tends the soil of the body-mind through any practices, disciplines, or pursuits that increase self-awareness, facilitate consciousness, and build relationship between the ego and the larger Self/God Within. Common practices include journaling, contemplative prayer practices, conscious movement, active imagination, dreamwork, and self-reflection.

Good soil for gardening is off the footpath and free of rocks and thistles. Psychologically, the footpath represents the common, well-worn way. It is the habituated responses and the “norm” for how we (and those around us) do things. The footpath often becomes a rut. The soil becomes packed down, and nothing can penetrate it. Thus, it cannot grow anything new.

The Scripture reads, “Some seed fell along the footpath; and the birds came and ate it up.” The birds represent ideas and beliefs we hold. Our ideas and beliefs often interfere with something new growing. We have an urge or desire that is filled with our Inner Divine Spirit and a little voice from within vetoes it. “You can’t do that!” “That’s not you!” “You’re too old!” Whatever the words or idea, it stops the new from penetrating and growing.

The symbol of rocky ground aptly represents the aspects of our body-mind where we are too tight, too tense, too inert, too fixated, and too cold to accept anything new. New seeds come, but they are not able to take root. The Scripture says, “And it sprouted quickly because it had no depth of earth; but when the sun rose the young corn was scorched, and as it had no root it withered away.” Wherever we pay lip service to the prompting of the Self, but do not act on it, the seed has fallen on rocky ground.

The thistles are the symbol for all the clutter and busyness of our inner and outer lives that take up the space and light needed by the new. Of the seeds that fell among the thistles, the Scripture says, “and the thistles shot up, and choked the corn.”

We know our inner “thistles” as the prickly thoughts that sting us because of their criticality and judgment. They take our energy and focus as we feel shame and guilt that prevent movement, thus preventing the growth of the new. We get mired down in non-productive thinking and obsessions. The outer life “thistles” are the multitude of tasks and activities that distract us from tending to ourselves.

Inner Reflection
Take a few minutes to consider the state of your body-mind in light of the parable. Identify where the seeds of your Inner Divine Spirit are showing up. Perhaps there is a new urge, impulse, desire, or feeling prompting a new attitude or behavior. Is it falling on “good soil, the footpath, rocks, or among thistles”? Be a good gardener and use whatever tools you have to make yourself receptive and open to the manifestation of the Divine within you.