Tuesday, July 8, 2008

All things weedy

Spent the day in the garden, pulling weeds. There are people who love their gardens, who spend every waking minute pulling weeds, deadheading plants, snipping off a little here and there to continually create the look they're after. I am not one of these. I'm a garden lover, true. But taking the time to keep it in shape is over my head. No matter what I try, the weeds get away from me. For the last couple of years, since we've had this more extensive garden, I learned that. In the beginning, I spent hours and hours keeping the tiniest unsightly weed from grabbing a roothold between the plants. I weeded so much that first year, I actually had a dream one night that I had weeds growing on my legs. I woke up in a sweat and went back out to the garden. But I didn't enjoy it--certainly not the nightmare, but also not the weeding.

I've hated weeding from my childhood when my parents would ask, demand, threaten and even bribe us to weed their yard and enormous bank of junipers all along one side of our property. Maybe it was the junipers that did it--I mean, who likes to stick their hands between such prickly bushes to pull weeds, all while keeping one's balance on the side of a steep hill?

When our children were small, the Beve and I lived on property large enough for a vegetable garden. We worked hard in those years, cultivating, pulling weeds, dragging long hoses out to the garden which stood in the far back of our acre lot. I kept thinking that if I kept at it long enough, I'd grow to like the work. The potatoes, the carrots, the zucchini (why don't those plants come with warning labels? "Never, ever plant nine zucchini plants, unless you're feeding a school!"), the WallaWalla sweet onions, the tomatoes...ah, yes, I loved the tomatoes--fresh, bright red, sweet and juicy tomatoes~ and the fresh salsa I learned to make that simply can't be duplicated with anemic grocery store varieties!

But now we have flowers, and a few herbs--there's nothing like walking out to the garden in the dead of winter to snip rosemary or thyme. And we're cultivating weeds. Apparently that's our main crop. I'm a lot less able to get out on my knees, use my flawed left hand to pull up weeds on a daily basis. So this beautifully planted garden suffers. I know how I want it to look, but the image in my head never matches what is beyond my window. And I only have myself to blame.

Results is what I'm after. And no hard work to get there. Certainly nothing that will cause me pain, as gardening does these days. I'm a wimp, I admit. But Paul says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters." (Colossians 3:23) I think it's easy for me to think of myself--only what's easy for me. Gardening is no longer easy--not that it ever really was--so I don't want to do it. And I think we're like this about a lot of things in life --in our Kingdom lives. It's hard to pull the weeds out of our hearts or to allow God to. But a beautiful garden, and a life that empty of the things that choke out growth--it's worth the work.

This 4th, for example, I let weeds multiply in my heart. I got really angry that day. And though I'm not going to tell you what it was about, I will say that it was based on being disrespected in my home, having my word count for nothing, and feeling like I was a hostage to others' wants, despite my misgivings. It affected the dogs, almost got a child hurt, and I got stinkin' mad. So mad that the stress from it caused physical symptoms in my already easily weak body. So mad that I couldn't set my mind on anything--not God, not my work, not a blog entry that would be hypocritical to how I felt. Inside I was using words like, "Never again," and "I can't stand them."

But it occurs to me that weeds grow from such things. That unchecked anger within can strangle many of the beautiful flowers I want my life to be about. And even if it was justified, that anger ultimately hurts me much more than those at whom I directed my anger. My life is already being choked by those weeds. So what do I do? There is only one solution. Forgiveness. No matter how hard that work, no matter what it costs me, I must forgive those who hurt me and mine. Even if they don't recognize that their actions were wrong, even if they never ask, I must forgive. It's like pulling weeds to do it, like dragging out vines that grow from one sin to the next, covering the earth of my heart with such ugliness. I must ask for forgiveness too--for holding this thing against them, for letting it take root in me. Ask God for a hand in digging out those roots. All things weedy--I want them gone.

How is your garden?

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