They were scorched
It was the second time I planted grass that I realized I had a rock problem.
A drunk driver took out the first crop. Before that, someone made off with the stepping-stones that had been installed in that area. [Who does that? Who digs up other people’s hardscapes?]
So, I aerated the second time. I was forced into this do-over. Might as well. In several places, my nifty yellow tool would only go so far down; at which point the earth made an unusual sound. More stones! They were older than those that had been unlawfully lifted. Time, water, and foot-traffic had buried these a long time ago.
With a little help from my neighbor, I dug to them and then around them, so as to lift them up and out. The grass would be happier that way. After lugging five or six pieces of slate to my patio, I called it a day. I remember asking myself if I should try to dig up this one particular area where there were (maybe?) another couple of stones. Nope, I decided. If there were any more, they were down in there pretty good.
The grass seed had six to eight inches of quality soil. It would be fine. It was fine. It was fine until the sun flexed its early summer strength. Then came the patches. I had planted appropriate seed. I had watered well. What could possibly be the matter?
Some depth of soil, it turns out, may not be enough.
“Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away (v.5).”
In the past, when I read that or when this part of the parable was read to me, rocky ground was rocky ground—ground comprised of rocks. I had not yet bumped up against the possibility that rocks many inches below good soil could give rise to the same troubling outcome; namely, scorching, withering.
You or I may be offering God a layer of good soil. This does not cancel out the rocks within and among us. The rocks will get in the way of real, sustainable growth (v.23). Which is why we deal with them (the rocks). Therapy, meditation, showing up to worship, bookending our days with prayer, digging after we’re through with digging...this is how.