Frog and Toad Plant a Garden

February 7, 2021, Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Once upon a time there was a frog who had a beautiful garden.  His friend, the toad, came walking by and said, “What a fine garden you have frog”.  “Yes”, said the frog, “it is nice. But it was hard work”.


“I wish I had a garden,” said the toad.  “Well here are some seeds,” the frog offered, “Plant them in the ground and soon you will have a garden”.  “How soon”, asked the toad. “Quite soon”, was the reply.  


So the Toad ran home and planted his seeds. “OK seeds”, he said, “start growing”. The toad walked up and down the rows a few times, but the seeds did not start to grow.  The toad knelt down and put his head close to the ground and said loudly: “OK seeds, start growing.”  The toad looked down the rows again, but the seeds did not start to grow. Frustrated, the toad put his head closer to ground again and shouted louder for a third time “OK seeds, start growing!”


Hearing all the noise, the frog came running up the path and asked, “What’s all this noise?” “My seeds will not grow” the toad replied. The frog said, “You are shouting too much, these seeds are afraid to grow. Let them alone for a few days. Let the sun shine on them; Let the rain fall on them, and they will grow.”


That night the toad looked out the window “Drat”, he said, “my seeds will not grow.  They must be afraid of the dark.” So the toad took some candles to the garden. Then the toad decided to read to them so they wouldn’t be afraid.  The next day the toad sang songs to the seeds.  And the day after that he played music for his seeds.  But the seeds still did not grow. 


Before long the exhausted toad fell asleep.  “Toad, Toad, wake up”, he heard his friend calling, “Wake up, look at your garden.” 


The toad looked at his garden to see little green plants coming out of the ground. “At last”, he said, “my seeds have stopped being afraid to grow.”  


“Now you have a nice garden too”, said his friend the frog. “Yes”, said the toad, “but you were right, it was very hard work”. 


Now isn’t that the story of life today.  It is hard work to be still, to be patient, to listen quietly. In the world today we want everything now.  We want everything immediately.  We want instant satisfaction; instant gratification.  It is hard work to seek out that quiet place where God speaks to us in the stillness of our souls.  We are all that toad who wants everything at once, that demands result now.  We are that toad that that is not satisfied with anything less than immediate results. And like that toad when we don’t get what we want when we want we become impatient, we start shouting – and people become afraid of us. 


In today’s gospel Mark includes that short but important detail that Jesus, in the midst of his demanding schedule, seeks out a “deserted” out of the way place to pray.  Jesus is basically saying “I’ve had enough.  I need some down time, I need some quiet time, I need time for me, I need time to pray.


We all need that deserted place.  Our deserted place may be a set time for prayer everyday, a drive in the car without the radio or CD player on, or that quiet corner in our home.  It can be anyplace where we can be alone to think, to reflect, to examine our lives, to let our own spirits settle down. 


In conclusion, If you find yourself impatient, edgy, jumpy, and shouting a lot, ask yourself: “Am I a toad?” In our own over-scheduled, stress-filled world, we can easily become that impatient toad shouting: “OK seeds, start growing”.  But what we need to do is follow the advice of the Lord and of the frog: “Leave them alone for a few days. Let the sun shine on them, let the rains fall on them.  Soon your seeds will start to grow”. 


But that takes hard work.


Sunday Readings

Job 7:1–4, 6–7

Is not life on earth a drudgery, / its days like those of a hireling?

1 Corinthians 9:16–19, 22–23

If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me.


Mark 1:29–39

[Jesus said,] “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”