by Ken Rolheiser
The bamboo and living water

Consider the Chinese Bamboo Tree: You take a seed, plant it, water it, and fertilize it for a whole year, and nothing happens. You do this for five years.

The fifth year you continue to water and fertilize and the bamboo tree sprouts and grows ninety feet in six weeks. Here is a lesson in patience. In God’s time we will receive blessings for our efforts.

Preacher Les Brown describes the lesson of growth from the bamboo tree. He pictures a neighbour dropping over to ask about the process: “What are you doing? Really?” And the years go by with nothing to show.

Some may ask Does the bamboo grow 90 feet in six weeks? No. It has been slowly growing underground and it has been carefully nourished.

Parents of children spend five or more years nurturing and caring for tender little seedlings. Nothing much happens on a given day or even year. Some get discouraged. Then suddenly growth springs, literally, into a gangling teen who knows everything and can reach the sky. Be ready!

The challenge I put out today is not just for the parents whose job it is to nurture the faith, but also to the children who can nourish the faith of their parents and others.

In a prayer reflection on the family the Knights of Columbus quote Saint John Paul II who said, “The family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates…the future of evangelization depends in great part on the Church of the home.”

Yes, “…from their children, they can themselves receive the same gospel as deeply lived by them.” This struck me with some impact when I considered my own family. Two brothers who are priests have left countless blessings and inspirations with my parents, siblings and extended families.

There are many ways even infants inspire faith in us. Take the example I shared with one weekly paper last Christmas:

A family in Italy used to dine at L'Eau-Vive (Living Water). After their meal they asked to thank all the cooks in person. Little Andrew was excited about the Baby Jesus in the Nativity set.  The cooks gave him the Baby Jesus. Every evening Andrew asked the whole family to meet in his room around the Baby Jesus to sing the Ave Maria of Lourdes, “like we did at L'Eau-Vive” he said.

The parish priest came to bless the family’s mountain chalet. Andrew led him to his Baby Jesus and they sang the Ave Maria. Now the priest is a family friend. “Through him we found our way back to the Church that we had left 15 years ago, my husband and I,” the mother said.

Let me conclude with quotes from Russian children:
Evaporate my sins. Tolik, 3rd form.
Let’s meet before my death. Yura, 2nd form.
Save people not from sins, but from loneliness. Sergei, 3rd form.

Don’t be afraid, O, God! I’m with you. Andrei, 1st form.
They told us yesterday at school that You exist. Hello! Lyonya, 3rd form.
Why is it when You switch on stars in the sky at night and blow warm wind to earth, and everything around is so still I sometimes want to cry? Natasha, 2nd form.

(551 words)