Unsettling the Soil of the Soul

In Grasse, we have a very dry climate, and I am always amazed that random flowers and plants sometimes sprout out of crevices of concrete in the ground and even the walls.  Despite the almost impossible conditions (no tilled or fertilized rich soil – but rock solid concrete) sometimes, a seed somehow takes root and grows in unlikely places.  It makes me think of the “rocky path’” that Jesus references in the Parable of the Sower.  But the random flower that sprouts up in the concrete, only occasionally gives birth to more life, they’re just surviving, and it’s certainly not where we plan on planting a tree we want to see flourish and grow. 

In our beautiful garden at Villa des Parfums, where we have many beautiful citrus trees, olive trees, fig trees, native perfumery flowers and aromatic plants and herbs, I love watching over time, how the regular discipline of tilling and unsettling the soil, fertilizing the earth and pruning at times, really does allow for much more growth, fruitfulness, health and life. 

As I ponder the Parable of the Sower, I can’t help wondering how this rule from nature translates into our own lives and the hearts of those we seek to serve?

Camp is definitely one of the key tools that we purposefully use at Parfums de Vie, because one of the ways that the soil of our soul is deeply unsettled is through the discomfort of life in community.  Life together 24/7 is hard work – our edges are bumped, we have to learn how to listen, serve, compromise, disagree, work together and forgive – but if we follow Jesus’ guidelines for healthy life together and allow for healing in our hearts, we are truly transformed.  But the transformational process requires us to say yes to the disruption of the unsettling of the soil of our hearts – which I have come to understand is a courageous and deliberate choice!

In our garden, if we stopped taking care of those beautiful, healthy trees and plants, if we stopped unsettling, tilling, watering and fertilizing the soil and pruning the branches, they would become less and less fruitful and eventually wither and die.  So too our work nurturing and caring for the children and teens of Parfums de Vie never ceases.  

If you are a gardener, you’ll know that there’s a beautiful mystery which connects our labor and efforts with the unseen!  A seed is planted in the depths and darkness of the soil.  We can’t make it grow, we can do our part, but then we must wait, trust and hope, and sometimes there’s a long wait before a seed sprouts!

This is why we do what we do at Parfums de Vie – doing what it takes to provide healthy conditions for growth in the lives of at-risk children and teens!  This is why we take kids to camp, because camp provides an extra special space for tilling and nurturing, where kids are safe, yet unsettled, and something truly miraculous takes place in the soil of their hearts. 

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