by Christine Sunderland
We are told that we, as Christians, are to be the salt of the earth. We are, therefore, to season our world, add flavor by spicing it with the love of God. The root of season is the Anglo-French season, to bring to a desired state. The same “desired state” became our calendar season, with the root meaning “an appropriate time,” from the Latin serere, “to sow.”
So to sow – that is plant seeds in the ground -led to the season of planting, and from there to the other growing seasons, for man’s living off the bounty of the earth will always be of primary importance to his life on earth.
As Christian writers we plant seeds in the minds of our readers. We want to bring them to a desired state, one in which they sense God more fully, one in which they meet Christ. We want them to experience the full flavor, the deliciousness, the sweetness of life as a Christian. How do we do this?
We too must await the right season for God to plant the seeds, the ideas, the means, the time, in our own minds and hearts. These waiting times are fallow times, time to listen for his voice, and watch his world – his creatures, flora and fauna, noting the exquisite detail of his creation. We read his word, we pray with his Body the Church. We await the appropriate time, the season he chooses for us to, in turn, season our readers with his own life.
What if, we might ask, God no longer desires our words to work in his world? What then? Then we seek his new desires for us, with great joy and anticipation.
When I begin to write a new novel I always wonder and pray if it is a work that God chooses for me. Should I be working in some other way, in these seasons of my time on earth? Should I be helping at the local hospice? Should I be volunteering more at my local church? Should I spend more time with my family in this season of my life? I watch and I wait and I listen for clues to the answers to these vitally important questions. What is thy will, O Lord?
Until I sense the answer, I use the time to feed my soul, to rest my mind, to absorb more Scripture and say more prayers, read more good fiction and study my craft. It is a watering season, a time when God nourishes me with himself, so that he may later reap good fruit. It is a quiet season, a summertime holiday or holy-day, and in the background and along the borders of this watering season I listen for his voice.
C. S. Lewis said that he stopped writing stories when he no longer saw pictures in his mind. I will stop writing when I sense the season is gone, when the appropriate time is no longer appropriately and urgently calling me, when I can no longer season the world with my words.
Ecclesiastes 3 speaks of the turning of the seasons, and Pete Seeger made the passage famous with his melodic, though political, rendering of “Turn, Turn, Turn.” Seasons turn, they change, they cycle through the calendar year, re-turning again, similar but different. For our life-times are linear not cyclical and as we mark the days we count our seasons given, celebrating years from the day of our birth. My birthday is today, and it is different for me than my birthdays last and next years. My age has seasoned this time of my life on my journey to God.
But probably the greatest turning is penitence when we re-pent, from the Latin paenitere, to feel sorry. In those watering seasons of feeding and growth, I re-turn to God who in turn re-turns to me, shining a light on the soil of my life. I repent. Is my soil fertile so that, like in the Parable of the Sower, God’s seeds find nourishing beds in which to fall? Or am I all rocks and desert and thorns and wayside? What shall happen to the seeds that God plants in me? Will they ever produce good fruit and a bountiful harvest? I turn and re-turn I change my ways, remove the boulders of my life, and discover God’s will for me. I am no longer deaf and blind; he gives me words so that I am no longer dumb and mute.
As Christian writers, our words are seeds urgently needed to season our world. But in the dry times we must allow God to water our souls, quench our thirst, so that in his time he may plant within us seeds bearing full flavored fruit, the full glory of his creation.
Christine Sunderland is author of five award-winning novels: Pilgrimage, set in Italy, Offerings, set in France, Inheritance, set England, Hana-lani, set in Hawaii, and The Magdalene Mystery, a quest for the true Mary Magdalene, set in Rome and Provence (all OakTara). Her novel-in-progress, The Fire Trail, about the coarsening of our culture, is set in Berkeley, California. She serves as Managing Editor for the American Church Union. Visit Christine at www.ChristineSunderland.com (website and blog) or on Fiction Finder.