Thursday, October 27, 2011

Working In Rocky Soil

My cabin has rocky soil.  I did not know the meaning of rocky soil until I tried to plant a tree.  My home soil is a mixture of loamy clay with a stone here or there.  I thought of it as rocky clay soil, but almost everything grew well.

The cabin is a different story.  I decided to transplant a maple tree that had sprung up from seed in a flower bed.  I wanted the maple near the fire pit to provide shade from the hot summer sun. 

My digging tool of choice is a flat blade garden space handed down from my parents’ days of digging. Its blade slices through soil and drills straight down to make deep, straight-sided holes.  Or so it did, previously.

My first push into the soil; the spade went maybe 1/2 inch.  A rock, I thought, so I moved slightly and tried again.  Again it was stopped.  I crouched on my hands and knees and started digging with a trowel to uncover that rock.  I dug around it and under it and behind it and finally, freed it from the soil and tossed it aside.

I pushed my trowel in the hole to see if there were any other rocks.  I dug rock upon rock from that tiny hole for that tiny seedling.  At the end, I had two piles:  a small pile of clay soil and a large pile of rocks.  I had enough rocks to build a small column or to begin a rock wall. 


Did you know that Ohio has a state soil?  No, it’s not rocky clay.  The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has a site which will tell you about soil.  That is where I found out that my rocky clay soil is recommended only for growing trees or pasturing animals.  If you are interested in learning about your soil, your county auditor’s map may show soil type; when you know that designation you can find more information on the ODNR site.

This morning I was reminded of the rocky soil (clay) when I was reading Jesus’ parable about the Kingdom of God (Matthew 13).  He compared the growth of the Kingdom to seed planted on different soils; and yes, He mentioned the rocky type.  The rocky soil receives the seed and it sprouts fine in the top 1/2 inch.  But the roots never grow properly, so the plant is stunted and eventually dies. 

Removing rocks from my cabin property is more trouble than it’s worth, because I don’t intend to farm there.  But if you intend to have a relationship with the living God, and cultivate that relationship, the rocks that keep you from living true have to go.  In the old days, people tilled land with oxen or horses yoked together.  Jesus told us, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light;” or as The Voice New Testament puts it, “My yoke fits your curves.” In history and practice, yokes have been used both to train and to enslave.  Jesus’ yoke is the training kind; He trains us to live like the people we were created to be, to live true. 

If we want to live the lives we were created to live, we must do so intentionally.  If I had merely kept shoving my shovel into the soil, depending on how much force I applied, I would have succeed only in either breaking the shovel or making numerous small dents in the soil.  But that was not my intention.  I intended to plant that tree, whatever it took.

It’s the same way with life, we must “systematically and progressively” arrange our lives to obtain the desired result.  Whether it’s planting a tree in rocky soil, or becoming a friend and disciple of God, the principle is the same.  Take on the yoke, study the Bible, associate with other Christians, and chart a path to your objective.  You won’t be disappointed.



This is one of the older trees on the cabin property and what my tree will look like in years to come, after growing true and strong.





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