Week 5 Day 1: Good Soil

Week 5: My Relationship with Creation
Workbook Exercise: My Creation Collage

Watch: Week 5 Day 1: Good Soil
How would you describe the ‘soil’ of your heart and soul at this time in your life?
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Transcript of Video:

In this phase, we’re going to explore our relationship with creation and one of the parables of Jesus that has really come alive for me is the parable of the sower. And we know that parable about how the sower went out to sow and some seed fell on good soil and some seed fell among the thorns and some seed fell among the rocky path, and in many ways Jesus is reminding us that our life, the life of the individual, is in a sense like that soil and how we are receptive to the word of God as it is sown into our hearts. Is our heart good soil? Is it abundant? Is it rocky? Is it full of thistles and thorns? And one of the things that I’ve learned here at Emery House in the garden is that the soil can in a sense be all of those things in a very enclosed area. And so as we explore our relationship with creation, we need really to pay attention to what soil both that we are growing in ourselves but also the soil that we are planting. The good soil that Jesus speaks of, the soil that is abundant and can produce 60- and 90- and 100-fold, is also soil which over time, if we constantly plant the same thing and don’t pay attention to renewing that soil, will end up being depleted and will be the very soil that will support the thistles and the weeds.

So as we explore our relationship with creation, we need to explore what it is in ourselves that can give abundance, can produce abundantly, and where is it in ourselves that is full of thorns, full of thistles, full of stones.

– Br. James Koester


  1. Lisa Bartoli-DeAngelis on April 1, 2019 at 16:11

    Sometimes I feel my heart and soul and rich and can do and create beautiful and enduring relationships and things. But sometimes I feel worn out or to used up as the soil and need to be replenished. Two things I’m learning in this. One is to take the time to care for myself so I feel strong and happy and able to do good things and care for others. And the other is patience. Not one of my strong points. To realize good things take time…to be nurtured and stay the course. In the end it is much more for gratifying.

  2. Jaan Sass on November 13, 2016 at 14:47

    To many places in my heart feel depleted and full of weeds and thorn bushes that need to be plucked out. Sometimes I feel that nothing will grow than God surprises me and gives me hope.

    • Chioma Nwaogu on February 1, 2021 at 13:17

      The soil of my heart and soul are at the verge of moistness I can say, as I try to take in all that will lead to the good of my life. I am open to all that shows me, where I have been in sin and the vast opportunity for a great harvest if only I can take in the seed put in me and not let weeds invade or even come near. My heart and soul rejoice at the awareness and reality.

  3. Linda on June 10, 2016 at 18:56

    Weeding is something that must be done daily in anyone’s life. Ya’ll need to study kudzu. It was brought to the south from the orient to stop soil erosion. They thought it would also make great feed for goats and cows. But because it grows a foot a day it took over people’s houses!!! Now they use round up on it. But if you think about a weed like that then you know how easy a persons life can get loose from them. Hahaha! I try to improve my life daily from what ya’ll post you have great visuals and reminders. I admire how you have things for the whole family. You have not been lazy but have something for all and much website content. Will definitely contribute when I can. Worthwhile, educational website. Recommending to everyone I know. I have thought about making promotional T-shirts with ya’lls website that says http://www.ssje.org, think like a monk. Would that be good? With permission of course. Just want the spiritually y’all teach to spread, it would not be vanity.

  4. susan zimmerman on March 14, 2016 at 20:07

    …the parable is about the SOWER who lovingly throws seeds on all ground…not about bad soil

  5. Margaret on March 13, 2016 at 21:27

    The soil of my heart and soul garden is tired from overplanting, trying to do too much. It needs weeding and a good dose of organic fertilizer before planting again. Perhaps the crops can be rotated so the soil will stay rich.

  6. chuck griffis on March 13, 2016 at 14:24

    The soil of my heart is good in some ways—I have a reasonable relationship with money and consumerism, I am moderate in both. I need to focus less on the physical aspects of a person, and more on their heart and mind.

  7. Elaine Dando on March 13, 2016 at 04:06

    My husband was digging the soil on our allotment yesterday. It is heavy clay which was cold and waterlogged. When he dug it went into great clods and clumps. I feel my soul is like that. It is rich and fertile but not in a fit state to be cultivated at the moment. It’s full of sadness and grief which prevents me from being the rich soil required for Christ’s cultivation. I need sun, lip warmth and a good top dressing of compost to help me become fertile ground.

  8. Pam on March 12, 2016 at 19:29

    Tired, so tired. Friends suggest I get a dog or cat and I say that I can’t bear the thought of having one more living thing dependent on me. A fallow time feels too exposed; maybe what I need is a cover crop.

  9. William Spies on March 12, 2016 at 11:35

    my soil, my soul is mixed between good to poor. some days I get the opportunity to help others I am enriched with life so I am enriched myself thru service. others days doing daily life chores for my self not as enriched.

  10. Debbie on March 10, 2016 at 08:00

    I need to have time to nurture and renew that soil. That part that is with in my need to be refreshed. These readings are one way to do that. My heart takes in what has been said and thinks about what has to be done in order to care for me. As I nurture my heart I also nurture my soul they are connected. My soul in under constant watch for those who would attack it and my body protects my soul. My radar is especially on very high when I am faced with people who may cause me to have thoughts that are damning. I can’t help it. These people will never change and will remain who they are. I can only change I need to look out for me.

  11. Stan on March 8, 2016 at 20:08

    I don’t have a lot of rocks in my soil, but those that are there are buried deeply. I do have a lot of random weedy patches, and similarly, those weeds are rooted deeply. But the remaining soil has been turned, nourished, and planted with good seed. But I must be vigilant to tend and water it daily, or it will never yield what it could. So I must tend the good soil first, to ensure some yield, and try pulling weeds when I have the opportunity.

  12. Jessica on March 8, 2016 at 10:51

    The soul of my heart is fallow. Needing rest before being replanted. Using the time to nourish it.

  13. Russell on March 7, 2016 at 15:32

    I feel the soil of my life is constantly turning over. In that process, there are nutrients added, but also rocks and weeds turned up. The encroaching thistle and briar continues to try and invade the fertile places. The sun bakes some of the soil to hardness. I move back and forth from planting to tending to tilling. The soil needs attention every day.

  14. Kristi on March 6, 2016 at 21:44

    At this time of my life I’d say the soil of my heart is being replenished. Where it was once dry & barren now is growing strong new roots with buds coming up. I felt it was left unattended for far too long due to the demands of daily life- work, raising children and managing a household.
    I now have the opportunity to tend the soil of my heart & nurse it towards a thriving plot through exploring & deepening of my faith.

  15. Eugene Wright on March 6, 2016 at 21:08

    The soil and soul of my heart is in a state of repair at this time in my life. My soil has been on an extended Sabbath and its just now over the last 3 or 4 years that the cultivation of my soil have been taken place. Parts of my soil is very fertile and I am planting the seeds of the word of God in it daily. In fact I can see the germination taking place, as I find myself doing and practicing some of the things I am reading, studying and doing. But alas, my soul has not yet caught up with my soil. My soul needs the direct intervention of God ALMIGHTY. My development is a process. I do also have weeds and thorns that I am constantly weeding because they keep clogging my growth and development. I am also reclaiming some soil that have been covered with rocks and stones. Hence the need for the help and direction of the Holy Spirit. So help me God.

  16. brent on March 6, 2016 at 19:45

    I was just lamenting earlier today how the ‘soil’ of my brain seems to be getting depleted and thin as I move through my 60s: memory is slow or fails altogether, thoughts don’t come as quick, critical intelligence is waning. Then I listened to this lesson, and I am realizing that clearing away all that intellectual overgrowth may be opening my soul to more growth. I have felt throughout this series that my ability to stop, reflect, and listen for God’s presence around me and in me is improving (I still have a long way to go.). So maybe these late years are going to yield a different sort of crop after all, now that I don’t have to be so smart.

  17. gwedhen nicholas on March 6, 2016 at 17:48

    I feel like the soil of my heart and soul has had a fallow time, a time to recuperate and become full of nutrients.I think it has recently been sown, or maybe I should say, that it is in the process of being planted.I am in a Spring time of my life. I hope that my soil will remain good soil so that I will be abundant in growth and fruit.

  18. Susan Zimmerman on March 6, 2016 at 15:59

    …ever tried to sprout and anise seed?

    …the heart soil is excellent but only God know if/when it will sprout…it’s checked,watered/given ultraviolet everyday for a very long time…but i’ve never been able to sprout one?

    …as far as i know it prefers the ‘soil’ in China…i shall keep trying…maybe the seed has been damaged by those who want to make sure is ‘stays’ in China?

  19. Suzanne on March 6, 2016 at 15:08

    The soil of my heart and soul is mixed. Some of it is filled with stones that never seem to stop appearing (aka forgiveness). Some of it is rich and ready to be planted (aka teachable). Some of it is sandy and is hard to do anything with (aka stubborn). Then there is some that is old soil much like an old soul (aka peaceful).

  20. Paul on March 6, 2016 at 14:59

    Over the years I have experienced immense spiritual dryness. but right now my heart and soul are on fire with love of God and neighbor. I wish I had a spiritual director to help me ask what’s next, what’s missing, what should I be thinking of? What should I be doing to renew my spiritual life and keep it alive? What resources will I have when the shoe inevitably drops? Looking at all these 6 video questions, I can see that there is SO much more to do, Thank you, Brothers, for making this process available to us.

  21. Muriel Akam on March 6, 2016 at 13:25

    The soil in my in my heart and soul is mixed- seeds of forgiveness need tending to grow fully. Also, I need to grow true nurturing rather than letting things happen. I need to grow the talents that God has given me- laziness gets in the way. I need to nurture the seeds of caring – action counts more than words and thoughts.I need to work on a lot of things and with God’s help and guidance will grow a garden in my heart and soul.

  22. a city monk on March 6, 2016 at 13:03

    just yesterday! I helped to put the ‘garden’ to rest for a season, a time of Sabbath rest. Truly! for real, garden fabric spread over the whole garden. Uprooting the stubborn, smothering the tenacious, emptying the compost bins, deciding how to cover the fabric with mulch so no weeds can invade… A whole season of Sabbath at 70. I haven’t a clue, lead me Lord… what is it that will bring me to rest in you?

    what does it mean to Rest in Lord…
    …speak Lord, your servant is listening, well there may be some hearing loss to recover… amen

    • a city monk on March 6, 2016 at 13:05

      hmmm, maybe I need to let go of “whatness” and cling to who…

  23. Winifred on March 6, 2016 at 12:17

    I will admit I have many thistles, so will seek the rejuvenation of new and fertile soil – maybe music, time away, mindfulness about more love and abundance.

  24. Lou Cavaliere on March 6, 2016 at 12:16

    I need a focus season like lent to keep the heart and soul real

  25. Robert on March 6, 2016 at 09:57

    My soil needs tending. It is a bit tired and depleted. Slowly I am learning more about how God can help me renew this soil in my heart and soul. As certain parts of my life break down, it is taking time to recognize how these provide nutrients rather than just being waste.

  26. Neil Ellis Orts on March 6, 2016 at 09:43

    Sometimes, I think I need a gardener.

    • Martha Hunter on March 6, 2016 at 14:20

      I like the honesty and reality of this statement.

  27. Bill Spies on March 6, 2016 at 08:59

    The soil of my soul is mixed. There are times in the day when it’s rich and it’s in the day when it is not but instead is full of large rocks.

    • Joni on March 7, 2016 at 12:32

      Yes! These words resonate.

  28. Mike on March 6, 2016 at 08:50

    I often feel dry and a bit tired. I’m open to being engaged more in giving and service in my community, but many things I’ve been involved in either never fully came to fruition or just didn’t have a lot of “juice” for me. My heart warms up when when I’m in a position to help those in need or to do something kind for a friend, but I wish I had more such opportunities.

  29. Jim V on March 6, 2016 at 07:31

    Ricky and thorny.
    I normally receive God’s word and the Holy Spirit with enthusiasm, but do not have the strength to carry it out.
    I have also felt that the worry and business of life and the deceitfulness of wealth has prevented growth and the ability to follow God’s word and direction.
    God help me cultivate good soil in my heart. Help me have ears to hear!

  30. Betty on March 6, 2016 at 05:32

    The soil of my soul is tired but ripe for the addition of nutrients to help it grow. There are rocks in it which impede growth of love and need to be pulled out. My soul needs to be tended but wants to support this growth. Amen

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