Editor’s note: DCSC Volunteer Hannah Puvalowski reflects on ‘growth’ through prayer and personal experiences. 

The sun, flowers, and the renowned DC cherry blossom trees all so vibrantly express growth. However, in the current season of winter, a season characterized by dark and cold days, it is easy to feel stuck and not connected to God. In this I am reminded of a prayer written in memory of St. Oscar Romero, a portion of the prayer reads:

We plant the seeds that one
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s
grace to enter and do the rest.

Seeds have been planted within each of us and winter is an intentional time to rest, nourish, and await the growth of these seeds. In August, when I began my service year with Franciscan Mission Service, seeds of joy, service, and community were planted in my heart. 

My seed of joy is nourished by joys such a warm cup of tea, letters from faraway friends, a good book, community ice cream parties, salami, sweet potatoes, and new music discoveries. It is in these simple joys that the Spirit deepens my ability to share this joy with others. 

My seed of service is currently rooted in my role as the Programs Associate at FMS. This seed is nurtured by the opportunity to accompany people in their own discernment process of service. It is a remarkable gift to support others in their hopes, dreams, and fears. Through their shared stories, I experience spiritual growth. 

My seed of community finds nutrients by leaning deeper into those around me. This means sharing about my moments of gratitude but also my frustrations. It requires being present to the goodness around me and reminding others of this goodness within them, even when feeling annoyed by them. Community leads me to a deeper understanding and acceptance of unconditional love. 

Growth often happens beneath the surface in the depths of the soil, amidst the darkness and disappointments. The season of Advent is invitation into the depths, into something new, to create the space to stretch, grow, and encounter God in new places. As we grow closer to a renewed season of light, I invited you to pay attention to the seeds planted in your soul. 

Reflection Questions: What seeds are planted in your heart? How are you nourishing them?