Travelogue V: Planted in Rich Soil

One way you keep holding on to an imaginary power is by expecting something from outside gratifications or future events. As long as you run from where you are and distract yourself, you cannot fully let yourself be healed. A seed only flourishes by staying in the ground in which it is sown. When you keep digging the seed up to check whether it is growing, it will never bear fruit. Think about yourself as a little seed planted in rich soil. All you have to do is stay there and trust that the soil contains everything you need to grow. This growth takes place even when you do not feel it. Be quiet, acknowledge your powerlessness, and have faith that one day you will know how much you have received. – Henri Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love

Patience is a virtue I lack a great deal. I like to know answers now… or at least I like to know that I am doing something that is leading to a desirable outcome. It is very hard for me to sit still quietly and do nothing when there’s something I care very much about at stake. Sometimes I feel like a kid on a road-trip that keeps asking God, “Are we there yet?” every 2 minutes. *smiles sheepishly at the self-portrait*

Acknowledging my powerlessness is something that is hard to do. I’m accustomed to keep seeking ways to be in control. Though this is a perfectly admirable trait to have at the appropriate time, my difficulty lies in being still and quiet when I ought to. There is a very real temptation at times to dig up the seed to check if there’s any growth, even when I rationally know that doing so only makes growth that much harder to happen. Yet, the image of the little seed quietly nestled in rich soil, trusting that it has all it needs to grow, is a very peaceful one. It’s another one of life’s paradoxes; that it is when the seed acknowledges its powerlessness (that it has the ability to control all its conditions for growth) that it can receive power.


The seed may have many questions. “When will I grow up?”; “How tall will I be?”; “Would I survive long enough to grow into a tree?”; “Will birds come to nest in my branches?”; “Will I become all that I dreamed I would be?” As the seed begins to sprout and becomes a little seedling, it may become even more anxious. It worries that it would be uprooted by strong winds, or by a passing animal…or that there wouldn’t be enough water, or sunny days. As time goes by, the worries build and the little seedling begins to dread that it would never become the tree it had dreamed it would be.

Does the restless little seed, so anxious about its future and the changing, unpredictable elements, have to be so fearful? Within itself it already contains all the required potential for growth. Furthermore, it is planted in soil that would provide it with all the nutrients it requires. True, it has no control over the elements, but does that really affect its growth? If the seed can trust itself and the soil in which it is planted, it would be able to enjoy the sun, the rain, and the wind, whenever they visit, knowing that each in its own way gives it something for its growth.

The seed… is our selves. I think that the imagery also serves to represent anything that is very important to us in which we hope for growth. Sometimes we may feel that letting go of what we have no control over is an attitude of defeat, and it makes us feel resigned and depressed. We may not realize that acknowledging our powerlessness is actually a very empowering process. When we stop trying to take control where we have no power, we begin to recognize that the most vital things we need for growth are already present in us and around us.

Being caught up in the future, be it with dreams or dread, makes us feel vulnerable to shadows that have no real power over us. If we can try to be still for a while, and just be in the present, our eyes may be opened to just how much there is that we can be joyful about in the here and now. If we can do this, we would not see the growing process as a painful period that we’re dying to get over with. When we begin to trust, we will also begin to relax. And when we relax, we will find much to savour on the journey in ways that we could never imagine. And we will discover to our delight that there is actually much that we can do for ourselves.

Come, let us live patiently with the ‘not yet’. Let us eagerly throw off the double-shadows of dreams and dread that distract us from recognizing and appreciating the love that we already have even in the present. We are seeds planted in rich soil, you and I. We will grow.


  1. I like the portion of your blog entry about how “we’re dying to get over with” certain phases in our lives, especially when they are dreadful or where there are wonderful things waiting for us in the near future. As we are “dying to get over with” things, we are letting our lives trickle through. As Morrie said, we’ve had our chance at being a toddler, and being a teenager. Now is the time for us to be an adult, and we will soon have our chance to be a middle-age adult and finally a senior citizen. We should not be “dying to get over” with our lives, but we should be “living” our lives. The joy is in the journey, and not in reaching the destination. Our destination has been secured and designated for us. What we’re asked to do is to embark on that journey. Thank you, Ann, for your insightful words of wisdom…

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