The field of view is so desolating that one wonders if any living creature can call the area home. Only stunted shrubs and baobabs are the vegetation capable of embracing such an environment. And a simple look at their formation tells the history of land in love with drought.
And every and there, one can see what once looked like a stream. But their dryness would often make any newcomer doubt his or her sense of sight. And even with the evidence of abundant sands and gutters, one still considers it illusory having any form of water present in such an arid zone.
However, on passing through the same area during the brief rainy period the region experiences, one would be baffled to see how resilient life could be. All the fossilized grasses would sprout magically, and the whole zone would rapidly turn into a green land. And independent of the scorching sun, life keeps on rising like a black child.
But what stuns many is how millets could thrive in such an environment. In Northern Cameroon, there are two major types of millets: the Yadiri and the Mourri. Yadiri matures in 95–110 days, while Mouri matures in 120–140 days. They might appear to grow very fast but if we understand that the area where Yadiri is cultivated experiences only but 3 months (around 90 days) of rainfall in a year we would comprehend the importance of timing in this area.
The plants have to be sown a few weeks before the first rainfall. The farmers rely entirely on the muddy soils that testify to the presence of a seasonal stream within the area. And once they sow their grains, they have to wait for the rainfall. They count on its faithfulness as all their life within the 9 months of dry season will depend on such a miracle of nature.
These millet farmers might not need anyone to explain to them the analogy of Isaiah in the first reading of today. They will be able to imagine what they experience, each year, on hearing him pronounce these words:
“10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish so that it yields seeds for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it”. (Isaiah 55: 10-11)
They know that life and death depend on such miracles that we have always considered ordinary. They can understand what the prophet says because they can feel in their dark skins the effects of the long drought.
The parable of the sower (Matthew 13: 1-23) would as well speak to them. They who know that timing is capital would have understood that any seed that falls not on the artificially made ridges would never survive the scorching sun. They also understand that not only does the sun scorch such the seeds, but the birds who also have almost no source of alimentation also wouldn’t hesitate to pick up any unlucky seed that remains exposed on the plain ground.
How do the readings of today speak to you?
Do you see the presence of God in your day to day life struggle?
How appreciative are you of your privilege to be cared for by God?
And when you hear the word of God, does it thrive in you or does the sun scorch it?