Being a teenager is not an easy proposition. While I might like to have a shot at reliving some parts of my life, there’s not enough money in the world to encourage me to relive being a teenager in high school. As crazy as that time was, I was lucky enough to have some truly amazing teachers that made it easier. One such teacher was my Anthropology teacher, Mr. Weiner. I loved that class because it was so interesting to me to learn about ancient people and cultures. It was in this class that I learned about the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Essenes. Mr. Weiner had a slide show that he did, where he talked about the Essenes, who were a sect of Jews that left Jerusalem and lived in the caves of Qumran because they believed that the Judaism of the day had become too worldly. They had scrolls of the Hebrew Scriptures as well as their own commentaries on the Scriptures, much of which was discovered in the caves. In the slide show, we are asked to contemplate whether Jesus might have been as Essene. That period of learning that we did was fascinating to me, and perhaps the first time in my life that I actually learned something about who Jesus was. My family were not church goers. We were cultural Catholics at best. Most of my religious education as a kid was done at Easter time when The 10 Commandments and all the Jesus movies were shown on television. I did First Communion prep at the local Catholic church… but that was about it. So my anthropology teacher’s class was fascinating to me, and it awoke in me a longing for God that I didn’t even realize was there at first. Right before Christmas break of that year, Mr. Weiner asked me to hang out for a minute after class. He said he doesn’t typically give Christmas gifts to students, especially because he himself is Jewish, but he handed me a gift wrapped in Christmas paper. I opened it, and was taken completely by surprise. It was a book… but not just any book. It was my very first Bible, which still holds a place of honor on my bookshelf. He said, “I want you to have this. I think you will really enjoy reading it and learning from it”. My teacher was definitely a seed planter. Jesus speaks to us today about sowing seeds, and the kind of soil that might be needed in order to get the best results. Here’s the thing, though… Jesus, is a lousy gardener. No one in their right mind sows seed in rocky or bad soil. But there he is, just throwing seed everywhere without regard to the soil. And, if I could take that image a little farther, sometimes, I think, the soil composition of each of our souls changes. Back when Mr. Weiner gave me that bible, I didn’t feel like good soil; my dad had died the year before, I was struggling with God and everyone else a lot. Being a teenager wasn’t kind to me. I felt kind of dry and rocky; but someone decided to throw some seeds my way, and something grew. Maybe at first, it was just weeds; and let me just say, that even dandelions have a purpose; guinea pigs love dandelion leaves; dandelion salad is pretty good stuff; and anyone who has ever received a dandelion flower bouquet from a loving child knows how beautiful they can be. It’s all in the eyes of the giver there; and God, while a lousy gardener, is an incredible giver of all that is good and gracious in our lives. Even when we feel like we aren’t “good soil” for God’s gifts, God scatters the seed there anyway… just in case… because even wild flowers are beautiful; perhaps they are especially beautiful because of the uncertainty that they will take root; I would like to think that their tenacity is especially loved by God because of the odds that they beat to grow strong and beautiful. So, while the point of the parable might be to tend to the soil of our souls… which is always something we should do… we should always be working to tend to our spiritual lives with good things; scripture, prayer, sacrament… but I also want to say, that all of us have some responsibility to tend to the garden, the kingdom of God. All of us have seed to scatter to grow up disciples of Jesus. What I want to say, is that none of us know what kind of soil we will encounter; and like my teenager self and even my adult self, sometimes the spiritual soil is dry and rocky. Throw the seeds anyway. You never know what might happen and what beautiful things might struggle to grow despite the conditions around them. I am thankful to a teacher who saw in me what I could not; and I am grateful to a saviour who kept tending the garden that some days, was too stubborn to grow. Thanks be to God for grace and love that knows no boundaries, and that can produce life even in troubled soil.