Cultivating Our Souls
Third Week of Lent 2019
By: Jeanne Connolly, Director of Charism and Mission
“I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it that it may bear fruit in the future.”
One of my favorite books to read during Lent is Judy Cannato’s Quantum Grace. I return to it year after year. I am particularly drawn to her reminder that “Love demands seeing that we are connected” (p.80). The tricky piece for me is that it is easy to forget the connectedness in a culture of divide and conquer, scarcity and greed, and fear and defensiveness. However, isn’t the real work of our spiritual journey, especially during Lent, to dispel the illusion of separation and to develop a mindset of growth and abundance?
I sometimes wonder if the illusion of separation persists because we insist upon a fixed and static relationship with God and others. Author Carol Dweck describes a fixed mindset as believing that “our qualities are carved in stone.” People with a fixed mindset have an overwhelming need to prove their knowledge, skills, and abilities and to cover-up or defend their shortcomings. The fixed mindset seeks to preserve what is and passes up opportunities to learn and grow. It thrives on doing the safe and familiar to support personal accomplishment. When that fails, individuals with a fixed mindset cope by making excuses and blaming others.
The scripture readings this past weekend remind us again of God’s infinite mercy and unconditional love. God welcomes us back when we stray, just as the prodigal son was welcomed home. God, the great gardener, offers once again to “cultivate the soil” of our souls. Are we doing our part to cultivate and “turnover” the fixed soil of our mind and heart? Do we nurture a mindset of growth and abundance? With a growth mindset, accomplishment grows out of a commitment to take on new risks and challenges, to learn, and to maximize our potential to be all that God has called us to be. For people with a growth mindset, disappointment and failure are opportunities to learn and to change.
Our mindset influences how we see the world and how we interact with those around us. Our Franciscan value of conversion and our workplace value of professionalism call forth a commitment to ongoing transformation. When transformation has not taken place within us and our thoughts and actions are fixed on scarcity and division, we are more likely to use our professional skills for our own advantage rather than living the way of love.
Kind and Merciful God, help me to turn over the soil of my fixed mindset. Cultivate in me an open heart.
In what ways has my mindset become fixed?
What needs to be pruned away so that new growth can be nurtured?
Judy Cannato, Quantum Grace: Lenten Reflections on Creation and Connectedness (2003) Kindle Edition
Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2006) Kindle Edition