The Word of God

What You Plant in the Fall

bridge path among colored fall leaves

The months of October and November usually bring a certain sense of completion, calmness, and relatively anticipated feelings of family, fun and memories with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the bend. But last year at our agency, we received an applicant for homeless shelter, whose life had been totally obliterated at the end of October, leaving her seemingly lifeless, lost, and with nowhere to go. 

She had been through a very turbulent and violent attempt at marriage with an eight-year-old daughter in tow. That little girl had probably seen more in her first five years of life than some of us have seen for all the duration. Fighting, alcohol and drug abuse, and a terrible, chaotic, living environment caused them to finally separate, seeing their daughter at different intervals, depending on what the court had decreed. Apparently, this little girl’s father had visitation rights during the week of Halloween, which upset her mother, but realizing that this was part of the agreement to try to start a new life she acquiesced, hesitantly. And this is where our story begins, on Halloween night. The little girl’s father, apparently in a drug-induced stupor, and flying as high as the tallest mountain, drove her trick-or-treating. He decided to “camp-out” at a friend’s house where they continued the debauchery. Within thirty minutes of their going door-to-door with other friends and taking his eyes off her for more than a fleeting moment, tragedy struck. Another drunk driver did not see her and hit her and killed her instantly on the street, her lifeless body lying there still clad in a Halloween costume and candy strewn across the street intermixed with her blood.

When news reached her mother, she was more than distraught. The elements of anger and denial, and depression and blame and guilt filled her mind, and it wasn’t long until she lost everything. This is where she came to us looking for shelter, and a new direction. How she made it through Thanksgiving, and Christmas that year is only a gift of God having brought her to our doors close to the first of the year. After she made all the arrangements and understood the requirements and conditions of remaining in the shelter, she came to me. During our short time on our initial visit, I realized that there was something very different about her, even though she was completely wiped out emotionally, she was not spiritually empty. She had always been a believer and a disciple of the Lord Jesus, and she taught her daughter how to pray, and constantly told her that there was never such a thing as a hopeless situation. Now, she was called to live and follow her own advice, a moment in her life that she found hard to remember because of the trauma.

Over the next three months, we spoke about what she planted in the fall, in the autumn, during all those days and nights, leading up to Halloween, and All Saints, and All Souls Days. What she planted was a rich harvest that would yield remarkable fruit but not right away. Her life had hit more than a brick wall. Her heart had been ripped out of its haven, and now she was truly alone. Members of her family had rejected her because they didn’t feel like she had been responsible enough, and her friends didn’t understand how this could all happen, and besides, she couldn’t even hear, some of their intended, albeit lackluster Peter Pan advice, cosmic rationales for why things happen. Slowly, but surely her faith, like seeds of a mustard plant, beginning to sprout what she had planted in the season of autumn, and what she had been planting during this horrible fall and loss of human life was critical to her survival.

By Mother’s Day, she was a new person. Members of the staff were concerned about what she would do at a Mother’s Day community banquet with other mothers and grandmothers present, many of them with their small children close to them, their voices adding to the celebration. But what this woman planted in those days of long, quiet afternoons, with orange and red hues dotting the surface was what exactly she needed for the harvest. Her face blossomed, and before she left us, she was committed to helping other women and men who lost their children at a tragically young age, saying over and over again, “I don’t need to give back, I need to move forward and celebrate the life that my daughter gave me,” even though she was now face-to-face with the living God.

Her life is more than an example to us. It is the only way to live. Every day we are planting something in our hearts and minds, even though we may not realize it, and not realize why, we must believe that our tears will be turned to dancing and it takes a delicate hand to continue to plant hope and healing and resolution, even when the sky is dark and cold and gloomy.

I watched her that night. She visited and witnessed with other residents about what it would take to turn things around. She glowed as she spoke about her own life and the loss of her precious child. In my estimation, that woman is a success because she knew what she planted, and she harvested well. In these hot summer months that are approaching, let us pray that we can be purged of selfishness and egoism, so that we can see that life is so much more than what we have, than what we give.

What will the rest of the year bring, you ask? What are you planting?


“Joy is hidden in sorrow and sorrow in joy. If we try to avoid sorrow at all costs, we may never taste joy, and if we are suspicious of ecstasy, agony can never reach us either. Joy and sorrow are the parents of our spiritual growth.” ~Henri Nouwen

Share your thoughts (21 thoughts)

21 thoughts on “What You Plant in the Fall”

  • Tony Montez says:

    This morning I was looking at pictures and watching some videos on my phone with my 6 year old granddaughter Lilly. She said she gets sad and sometimes cries a little bit because she’s not a baby anymore. Her little brother is almost 2 years old. She dotes over him and he wants to be with her constantly. I told her she’s growing up and things change. Every day there’s reasons to be happy. I told her her grandpa and grandma are pretty old and every day we’re happy she and her brother are our grandkids. She said I’m happy Lisa and David (her aunt and uncle) are going to have a baby. It occurred to me that those early twinges of loss emerge in a child’s life with beautiful innocence. In God’s goodness and mystery we experience meaningful loss on our journey so that we also experience the merciful kindness God’s love.

    • Caro says:

      I think it more than awesome that your granddaughter ahs lamented the loss of her “babyhood.” when most children these days race to become adults and then become adults who race to become children again. It seems likely that innocnence is never truly appreciated until it is gone but with the hope of finding vestiges of newness, faith, and mercy in one’s dealng with one another. Thanks so much for sharing for everything!

      • Caro says:

        Be ever watchful for the opportunity to shelter little children with the umbrella of your charity; be generous to their schools, their hospitals, and their places of worship. For, as they must bear the burdens of our mistakes, so are they in their innocence the repositories of our hopes for the upward progress of humanity. Conrad Hilton

  • Liz Guerra says:

    Another beautiful story of the wonders God sees us through. Unless a grain of seed shall fall upon the ground and die it remains but a single grain with no life. Planting our good seeds keeps us growing.

    • Caro says:

      Exactly, Liz! Planting good seeds always guarantees a great harvest especially when we ask and allow the Good Lord to water and nurture our efforts. Thank you for your comments, friendship, and encouraging words to keep moving forward even when it looks dark and lonely!

      • Caro says:

        “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
        — Brené Brown

  • E.M. says:

    It would have been so easy to remain buried under all that pain. So many do. It is a true Joy and Strength she has been graced with to be lifted out of this pit. Thank you for this.

    • Caro says:

      Absolutely spot on! Traumatic events tend to eclipse even the simplest of joys and happy memories. This is why our faith which occupies much more than the intellect and mind, enables the soul to rise out of the ashes and into the living and loving light of Jesus the Lord. Thanks so much for your comments.

      • Caro says:

        “I wonder if that’s how darkness wins, by convincing us to trap it inside ourselves, instead of emptying it out. I don’t want it to win.”
        — Jasmine Warga

  • Veronica Leal Altamirano says:

    Another great one! Thank you for the reminder that each day we are given an opportunity to show Jesus and truly reap what we sow! Everyone could start with a smile to strangers, a simple hello, good morning, good afternoon, to sitting and listening to a conversation or sharing your story of all you have overcome……to so many other ways of showing the face of Jesus.
    When we choose to love, we choose to sacrifice a part of us that we could never truly have a hold of without being vulnerable. Vulnerable to loss and to hurt, etc., but in return we could also gain more happiness, more joy, and more peace among other things. This is where we all get a glimpse of Heaven! In our life experiences we can either choose to build up ourselves with more strength in our Faith or choose to ignore an opportunity to build our Faith stronger. May we all face our adversities head on and rip it open and go through the hurt or emotions and deal with them with Jesus at our side and at the center! May we gain His wisdom and guidance and allow God’s plan to unfold for us.

    Keep these wonderful writings coming and God bless you now and always!

    • Caro says:

      Thank you so very much, Veronica and welcome back again to our inspiration-producing community through this blog! We certainly appreciate your comments that remind us all that a positive attitude leads to greatness. Becoming the best version of ourselves is a life-long process and a journey well worth all the effort and struggle. Your post inspires us all to smile and let everyone know that today we are a lot stronger than we were yesterday. God bless you always!

      • Caro says:

        “We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone — but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.” — Frank Crane

  • Julie Trevino says:

    In a sense, we sometimes go through a time of feeling lifeless, lost and nowhere to go. It’s sad when children have to suffer because of chaotic living environments. I’ve known people that have lost children in tragic accidents. One in particular.. . my mom’s best friend lost her son and daughter in a horrific car accident right before Thanksgiving in Houston. I know it was very difficult for this Mom. But come thanksgiving, they still celebrated with a huge Thanksgiving feast. She said it’s what her son and daughter would have wanted. The faith this mom had was remarkable. It was the tiny mustard seed that had been planted. This was an example of faith I will never forget. It truly is the only way to live. A mustard seed was planted in me by my parents and I plant in my children and grandchildren. Since I read this story, I can’t stop singing….
    Let us build the city of God,
    May our tears be turned into dancing,
    For the Lord, our light and our love,
    has turned the night into day.

    • Caro says:

      I am always amazed at the people who show remarkably deep faith in face of complete darkness. It is like we are witnessing the true presence of Christ in these brave people. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your desire to dance in the wonderful amazing grace of God!

      • Caro says:

        “Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.”
        — Carl Jung

  • Gabriel says:

    This story brings me great hope, that what I do today may reap a harvest in the future. I pray that the right seeds are being planted of love, patience and forgiveness. Thank you for posting this story of belief that what we do today may bear fruit for eternal life.

    • Caro says:

      Thanks again, Gabriel. Planting seeds every single day is what we do as Christians. Our prayer is that these are planted with extreme focus on the present moment and the grace of God that sees us through. Have a great summer!

      • Caro says:

        “Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”
        ― Paulo Coelho

  • Denise Guerra says:

    What an awesome story of faith, hope, and love. If the seeds that you plant in life are wholesome and good, then you will be able to withstand most anything that life throws your way. Keep your sights set on the Lord and He will make sure that your plants will grow to be those that help you whenever you need them.

    • Caro says:

      Once again, Denise, we thank you for the time and effort you took in reflecting with us over the themes presented in our latest presentation, “What You Plant in the Fall.” While you are so correct about keeping our sights on the Lord Jesus, there are times, moments, even seasons in one’s life that take our attention away from the very important things in this life that really matter. Gpd bless you always, and please keep cool this summer!

      • Caro says:

        “It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.”
        ― Roy T. Bennett

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