5th January


Jesus spoke to them about the Kingdom of God in parables: ‘Once there was a man who planted a vineyard which he let out to tenants…’
Mark 12: 1

When Cuthbert first went to live on the desolate Farne Island the ground was hard, there was no water, and the birds ate the first seeds that he planted. So he set to to dig and trench the hard land. When some guests came there was not sufficient water for them to drink, so Cuthbert invited them to help dig down into the ground where he had built his cell, and he prayed over them as they dug. Soon, water flowed out: they had dug down to a well.

Friends brought wheat seeds for him to sow in Spring, but by Midsummer nothing had grown. So Cuthbert concluded it was not God’s will for wheat to grow on the island, and he asked his friends to bring over some barley seed instead. This was brought long after the proper time for sowing it, but Cuthbert gave it a go. It in fact sprang up quickly and produced an excellent crop. But then there was another set-back. The birds began to devour the barley. So Cuthbert talked to the birds, which was also his way of sorting out things with God, along these lines: ‘Why do you touch my crops? If it is because you have greater need of them than I and it is God’s will for you, then go ahead. But if not, be off, and no longer damage what belongs to someone else’. The birds desisted and Cuthbert was able to live off his barley.

Be a gardener.
Dig a ditch
toil and sweat
and turn the earth upside down
and seek the deepness
and water the plants in time.
Continue this labour
and make sweet floods to run
and noble and abundant fruits to spring.
Take this food and drink
and carry it to God
as your true worship.
Julian of Norwich

Lord, I give to you the ‘seeds’ that you have given me
at the present time.
Help me to to do my very best with them
that a good crop may ensue.

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