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On rocky ground

Autumn Jones is an educator and a journalist. She loves all things Colorado, country dancing and playing sports. Connect with her on Twitter @faithful_writer.

“Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep… And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” —Mk 4: 5, 8

Though not a frequent camper, I know how easy (or difficult) it can be to pitch a tent. Ever try to pitch a tent in the middle of a snowstorm? Or early in the spring when the ground is still frozen solid? How about in the heat of a summer afternoon when all you really want to do is jump in the nearby lake?

The sooner you set up camp, the sooner you actually get to enjoy camping.

In the midst of winter, the ground, often thoroughly frozen, proves nearly impenetrable for tent stakes. The hammer hits the cold metal stake repeatedly—and rarely successfully—hoping for at least a half-inch with each strike. All the while, the camper is bundled, fingers frozen in bulky gloves, and the ground fights back. Each swing of the hammer produces a fierce vibration through the stake into the ground and, the soil unforgiving, gives it right back.

Tired and cold, the camper may give up entirely, leaving the tent stake-less, resting atop the soil, exposed to the elements and ready to be blown off course with the slightest winter wind.

Take that same tent off the trail and into the backwoods, perhaps later in the spring or summer. Faced with a different dilemma, the camper has to clear a campsite. Rocks present two options—remove every single one or work around them. Staking the tent between rocks may appear easier than finding an open space, yet if one of those rocks moves, the entire effort may unravel. Rocks are rarely perfect, evenly spaced or thoroughly anchored to the ground beneath. Thus, the camper risks great instability.

Finally, the camper ventures into an open meadow in early September. The ground is soft, warmed by the long summer months, malleable after the rich summer rains. Without a rock in sight, the camper carefully lays out all four corners of the tent. One by one the stakes dive readily into the soil, the earth open and willing. Firmly planted in the ground, the tent rises with ease. With the campsite set, the camper grabs his fishing pole and strolls casually to the nearby pond; the day, the adventures, the sunset waiting.

Those are the days when camping is “easy,” when the camper has more time to explore because his foundation has deep roots. Those are the camping trips when little worry is spent on the stability of the shelter, and, consequently, more time is available for campfires and swimming holes.

Our hearts are a little like that.

With an icy heart, we reject any of the love poured out for us. It ricochets off our frozen being—sometimes with great force—back to the hands of the one who loves. With a rocky existence, love knows not how to reach our deepest parts, caught instead in the shallow crevasses between our burdens. Neither allows for the development of roots, and both yield an uncertain existence.

Only when we are exposed, malleable, free from our own “rocks,” can we be open to the love of others and the love of the Father. Open, we risk an initial piercing of the heart that may be less than comfortable. But, once through the surface, love’s stake is able to work deep roots into our beings. Our stability becomes all the more reliable and our desire for love grows infinitely. With deep roots, we too can go freely to explore life’s many adventures.

Camping comes easily when the ground is available for the camper. Loving comes easily when the heart is available for love.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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