As a little girl, one task my siblings and I were responsible for was to weed the vegetable and flower gardens, my father’s pride and joy.
Hmm… funny… I only remember me doing this task – where were my brother and sister?! Well anyway… I can remember trying to hurry through this task that I didn’t enjoy. And pull dandelions – really? They were such pretty flowers… I didn’t understand! So, I would begrudgingly pull the weeds and, often, I would only get the weed and not the root. Sadly, a few days later, there seemed to be more weeds to pull – I would wonder how they grew so fast! Perhaps my father had explained to me, but I don’t recall anyone telling me that to remove the weed permanently, one had to get the whole plant, roots and all. This often requires either for the ground to be soft – perhaps from a recent rain – or one needs to use a hoe to dig the offensive plant from the garden. This also requires that one be on his (or her!) hands and knees. The other lesson I’m not sure I ever learned was that if you didn’t weed your garden, soon the beautiful flowers and wonderful summer vegetables would be overtaken and destroyed by those weeds.
As an adult I understand. But I also see a parallel or life lesson for us. Have you ever had a situation, or a person, or a problem that was troubling to you and you didn’t seem to be able to “let it go”? You know what I mean… you have a minor, or perhaps a major, disagreement with someone. Perhaps you have many small tasks to be done and you’re struggling with where to start. Or you have some complex issues to resolve. Have you ever been tempted to just “cover over” these things? Have you ever been tempted, when dealing with disagreements, to just smile, or perhaps apologize, or perhaps pretend it didn’t happen? Well, I’ve found that, in my life, when I take that approach, that “roots” begin to grow deeper and deeper within me. What those roots are for me are things like bitterness and depression. It may look on the surface like the “weeds” are gone but count on it… the roots are growing stronger and deeper and the “weed” will one again erupt. Agree?
So, is there no solution, and this is just one of those coping mechanisms that humans use to survive? Please agree with me that this is not the right answer! Because I guarantee you – I’ve struggled with the results of this “ignore it” approach – you will not find contentment, peace or self-satisfaction. The answer, as hard as it may be… is to take the time to dig up the root to ‘kill the weed’. I’ve found that, just as a child working on hard soil, I need tools to help me with root digging. First of all I need a soft spirit! I need friends to help me see myself more honestly. I need time in my faith to see beyond my struggles with an issue to know that healing is hard work but essential. I need to be very self-honest and see what I can do to be a more emotionally and even spiritually healthy person. Remember the rain and the hoe? Well, let’s work together to get at those ‘weeds’ in our life with honesty and hard work. Let’s clear out the gardens in our life to allow the beauty of the flowers – things like joy and peace – to thrive instead. Let’s remember that, the smaller the weed, the easier to pull out of our ‘gardens’ – let’s not give these things the opportunity to grow bigger and deeper. And let’s check back with each other again… I’m hoping we’ll all find ourselves more able to face new problems that come our way with contentment and calm.
Nobel prize laureate and Polish journalist Henryk Sienkiewicz wrote something which touches my heart… “On an exhausted field, only weeds grow.” Hmmm… thoughts?