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Sow seeds of kindness, connection with every person as we leave pandemic

The Rev. Anna Shouse is the senior minister of Unity of Austin.

“But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”  — Matthew 13:23 

The longest journey is the one from the head to the heart.

Spiritual growth requires that we navigate that passage even if it takes us through places in our own hearts and minds that we’d rather not go. Choosing to live as a person that expands good in the world obliges us to align our ideals with our actions. We have to make it real.

That means self-awareness. 

Years ago a friend pointed out to me that far from my assertion that I wasn’t an angry person, I got quite carried away yelling at other drivers. That conversation was a kind of kooky spiritual awakening for me. For the first time I realized that maybe I needed to learn to pay attention to my emotions, my attitudes, my words and my actions.

It struck me that if I wanted a fulfilled life, I needed to find a way for those to line up.  Congruence and integrity became my watchwords and lifelong endeavor. I got it that if my life contradicts my ideals, my ideals are empty.

In Jesus’ "Parable of the Sower," the good soil is our receptivity, self-awareness and teachability. If we are not willing to learn, we are the other soils — the rocky, the hard, the thorn infested. Nothing productive can take root and grow.

That extravagant farmer in the parable is God by whatever name you call the Divine.  God is open-handed and big-hearted, sowing seeds everywhere. And God is busy!

We are in a time of abundant sowing. The seeds of new possibilities for a loving, life-giving world are within every person. We each get to choose if we will be receptive soil where those seeds can grow.

The seeds God is sowing so broadly now are our ability to recognize the divinity and worthiness of every person. It is evident that this idea is a scary prospect for some people. They seem to be working overtime not let those seeds take root.  I pray for them, “God knock on the door of their heart until they open it to the joy of Your Love and Presence.” 

Then I bring the focus back to myself. How do I proactively see, honor, value and connect with the divinity in every person? Where are there ways I need to be more aware of my own unyielding soil?  Where can I reach out in friendship, in joy, with all people? Where can I put feet on my prayers and take action on my ideals?   

We celebrate freedom authentically this July 4 by asking ourselves these questions.  We celebrate freedom genuinely by working together to create a world that is safe for all people — where all are respected, seen and valued, and the door of opportunity is wide open and proactively welcoming.

During these last 16 months, we have been given a great grace, admittedly an extremely painful one. The world as we knew it has been stood on its head. Fissures that had been papered over became evident.

We have been gifted with the opportunity to wake up, to get honest, to get real.

As we move out of quarantine back into physical connection, let us take the wisdom we have gained with us. Be the rich soil, the one who hears and understands and who is a part of bringing forth the splendid harvest of love. 

 Anna Shouse serves as the senior minister of Unity of Austin. She is committed to working toward a world where all are loved and valued. Doing Good Together is compiled by Interfaith Action of Central Texas, interfaithtexas.org.