So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
What follows is an excerpt from When Swallows Return by Mari Jones. The book is a collection of stories from farm life which, although written some years ago, contain spiritual lessons for us today.
Calling the small hillock that rises between our farmhouse and the village of Llanymawddwy Boncyn Banadl (‘Broom Hill’) seemed to make hardly any sense at all. It was once covered with tall sturdy pines and a variety of other evergreen trees. They had been there since time immemorial, nothing much growing beneath them save a thick carpet of ground ivy. Why, then, the romantic name ‘Broom Hill’?
When they were about seventy years old, the trees were felled. They were dragged helter-skelter down to a nearby saw-pit to be cut into timber lengths, the branches put aside for burning. As a result of this frantic activity the surface of the ground was harrowed and churned up.
At that time, planting new trees to replace the old was not compulsory, and nature was allowed to take its course to provide the bare hillock with suitable cover. Much to everyone’s astonishment, before very long the ground was clad with clumps of yellow broom. The seeds had been dormant all those years, waiting for favourable circumstances in which to germinate and grow.
Now that the ground had been loosened, the light and warmth of the sun could penetrate the soil around them and the seeds sprang into life. For many years they had waited patiently for this hour. They could do nothing themselves: external factors essential for growth were absent. But now, once more, ‘Broom Hill’ was living up to its name. It had regained its former splendour.
But we were not to enjoy the golden mantle for long. Growth of a very different kind soon pushed its way out into the light, supplanting and choking the yellow bushes. This was stronger and slower-growing, and little by little the meaning of the hillock’s name disappeared once more. The slopes are now covered with willows, with many a silver birch among them.
Therein lies another mystery — from where had these last seeds come. Were they deposited there by the process of dispersal or did they too, like the broom seeds, lie dormant, waiting for suitable growing conditions, but needing a longer time to germinate because of their stronger growth. Be that as it may, there they are, a visible proof that nature proceeds according to her laws.
Similarly, the seed of the gospel prayerfully sown in the hearts of men and women over many years can lie dormant, waiting for favourable growing conditions. Only the light and warmth of the Holy Spirit can cause that seed to germinate and spring to life. How important it is that we continue steadfast in prayer and faithful in witness, so that the ground will be loosened and made ready.