Is there any better metaphor of hope than a newly planted farm field? All the work and investment with the expectation that if all is done correctly, and the weather holds and enough rain falls, but not too much, and the sun shines, but not too much – then there will be a harvest that will make all the work and worry worthwhile.
I pass a spring-planted cornfield on my morning walk. While the surrounding hayfields have greened for weeks and will soon be ready for a mowing the cornfield has lied in wait. Then one morning I noticed it – the greening. Even though the cornfield is a half mile away I could see a green haze across the field and I knew that the sprouts had worked their way up to the sunshine. Around the corner I passed another cornfield that is right up to the road and confirmed my observation as I saw the rows of corn about five inches high. The farmer no doubt is pleased but he knows there is much that lies ahead yet.
We tend to think of our sacraments as a whole growing season in one experience. I know that I have. My wife and I were young when we got married, but we were exceptionally mature for our age. If you would have asked me at the time, I would have told you that in all sincerity. We were ready. In my mind our love was in full bloom. I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t appreciate that marriage is a continued lived experience.
The reality is that when we encounter God in any of the Sacraments it is much more like that newly planted field. There is the spark of life to be sure. There is all the hope and all of the promise to be sure. But our faith must hold. Even in the times that seem too much. In life, we grow from, we grow into the richness of the Sacraments. We look at the calendar of our life and the seasons come and gone and think that the best has already passed by. We forget that the God we encountered in Sacrament is eternal. There is always more to learn, always more to experience. That’s because God is love and love is always growing, always giving, and always sharing more.
My wife Michelle and I are celebrating 40 years of marriage on June 14th . We could not have anticipated what our life together has brought – both in terms of struggle and blessings. We have grown into the sacrament of matrimony together through these years. Others, including our children and grandchildren no doubt look at us and see a love in that is richly ripening. I don’t know what life’s calendar holds for us – how many pages, how many seasons there are still to come. But I better appreciate now that in the Sacrament of marriage God truly became the source of our love for each other. And I know that our love is not full flower, not ripening, but that we are still and always will be - in the greening.