“The plants were hidden under the snow. And the farmer…remarked with satisfaction: ‘Now they’re growing on the inside.’ I thought of…your forced inactivity…Tell me, are you also growing on the inside?” St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, #294
The plants cannot put off the winter. It comes for them like it comes for us, day by day, whether we’re ready or not. That’s true of the seasons of the year, and it’s true of the seasons of our life. Winter may come sooner or more often than we’d like, and we find ourselves “snowed in” — unable to go about our regular, planned life.
Perhaps there’s a medical condition causing this “winter”, or perhaps there was an accident, or perhaps we’re caring for someone else. Something is keeping us from getting up and being active in the way we’d like — physically active or mentally active. St. Escriva asks each of us in those unplanned situations: is growth beneath the snow?
You are caring for a sick parent or child, and you can’t go out like you’d like. You cannot get to church or out with good friends like you want. Are you still growing in your faith and in love? Are you stagnating and growing cold, or is there growth deep down in your soul?
You are raising a family and cannot continue your education, because you have responsibilities that keep you from paying for or attending classes. Are you stagnating or growing? Is there growth in your mind and in your heart?
You’ve made some bad choices, and you feel stuck in them. You can’t live the life you had originally planned. You are snowed in by your mistakes. Is there growth beneath the snow? Are you living in your soul or making yet another mistake by letting it die in the cold?
There is always opportunity for growth: in the mind, if not in the body; and in the soul, if in neither. We can always, in every moment, deepen our relationship with God. We can always work on becoming saints.
Jesus has sown the seeds of eternal life into each of our hearts. (cf. Mt 13:36-43) Something is going to grow there. If we let the seeds die in the winter of our hearts — in our frustration, in our failings, in the facades we put up for the world — what will be there to harvest? And what will become of us?
Heaven is the ultimate goal, and we are always in the right circumstances to get to Heaven. We can follow Jesus and grow in faith wherever and however we are: stuck in our homes, stuck in our beds, or even stuck in our own bodies. St. Escriva challenges us to see that and, more importantly, to carry it out: to create growth beneath the snow.
Copyright 2019, Joe Wetterling