Tiny seeds

March 31, 2004

The weekend was long and hard and exhausting. The retreat team, a group of ten amazing people, worked for five weeks to put together a weekend that would open the teenagers’ minds and hearts. But they just weren’t receptive to it. I’m used to dealing with a couple of closed minds at a time, but there were more than a couple. The more we tried to reach out, the more the kids pushed us away. It wore us out.

These aren’t bad kids. But maybe they’re having a rough time at home, maybe they’re starving for attention, maybe they’re too scared to let us know what’s really going on in there. They just didn’t realize that it feels so much better to let go and open up than to hold on tight and close yourself off to the world. They haven’t learned that yet, and they weren’t ready to.

Before we left the camp Sunday morning, Mark, one of the leaders, handed every person three seeds. These three seeds, he told us, were reminders that ideas, lessons and dreams were planted inside of us. “You may not see it now,” he said, “You may not see it until next week, or next month, or a few years from now, but those seeds are growing inside you.”

I thought about how doing something nice for someone else is also like planting a seed. It disappears into the soil, and you trust that it is there ready to grow. You don’t have to sit there and wait for it. You just have faith that it will happen. You believe it.

I bought a bunch of daffodils last night. They were only 99 cents. I wasn’t sure they’d blossom, because they looked faded and dry, but I put them in water when I got home, anyway.

By the time I woke up this morning, they were already blooming.


  1. Lisa says:

    Don’t let the kids’ reactions (or lack thereof) discourage you. My guess is you reached more than you realize and touched them in ways they may not admit. I teach 8th graders and some days it’s very tough going. But they do come back…sometimes years later, to tell me how one comment or one activity made a positive impact.
    I’ll bet the same is true for the kids you worked with last weekend. Take heart in the power of those daffodils. :)

  2. Sarah says:

    Also, remember the kids are surrounded by their peers – and I think we all know how important reputation & appearance is to kids at any age. I am sure you, and everyone else, touched them and inspired them in ways you cannot even begin to understand. They will realize it one day … don’t worry.

  3. crissy says:

    oh… i feel your pain… i’ve been volunteer teaching a collage class for the past 6 weeks, and a few weeks ago, one of the kids asked me, “you get paid to teach us, right?” and when i replied “nope” he said (not in a hostile way) “why are you wasting your time on us?” i was shocked at his words, but he truly wanted to know, and didn’t think of himself as being “worth it”. so we talked, and the next week, the same boy was the most helpful and appreciative of the bunch. so yeah, lisa’s right – they do come around. (and how impressive to be an 8th grade teacher!!! )

  4. Leslie says:

    Bless your heart for reaching out to our adolescents.
    I am an 8th grade teacher at an inner city school in SoCal, and everyday I face situations like that. Some days it’s difficult and challenging, but most days are so rewarding!
    I like the analogy of the planted seeds; I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time I’m having a hard day with my 8th graders.

  5. christine says:

    I know you ladies are right about making an impact whether you know it or not and about them realizing it much later. Thank you for reminding me of it.

    Like Crissy, I’m impressed by the 8th grade teachers who spoke up. Teachers, in general, amaze me. I deal with these teens once a week and two weekends out of the year, but you guys do it every single day. Bravo to you!

  6. lucia says:

    mark’s use of the seeds of growth was so beautiful. those kids will bloom too, just in their own moment in time. helping them plant their seeds will get them a little closer.

    p.s *sigh* daffodils are lovely aren’t they! i keep thinking they’re going to look up at me and start singing to me. :)

  • I'm Christine, and this is a slice of my life—a sweet, rich, wildly indulgent slice that would taste really good with a scoop of Breyers vanilla bean ice cream. Read more >>

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