Weeds require zero cultivation.
I never gave them a lot of thought in our Sierra Nevada home. They were just part of the scenery, usually choked out of existence by pine needle acidity, as green a weed control program as Al Gore could ever imagine. But now on valley floor, with our home’s little patch of sand in this nearly treeless landscape, I am forced to do battle with any number of tenacious little sprouting creepers.
Prolific, they are threatening the curb appeal of my home, and it’s only mid-February. From time to time, on sunny winter days like today, I venture out to a patch of these uninvited guests, to pull them, kicking and screaming, from my sleeping flowers’ beds.
While weeding, I find myself contemplating the needs of one of my dozing beauties- a geranium bush that is already trying to wake and bloom. I cease from the back-stooping business of weeding for a moment to evaluate this big guy’s health. He seems a little confused- new baby green leaves budding, while gawky old shoots seem to jut out everywhere, all brown and broken. By all means, I want to encourage the early-bloomers, so I dig in to clean him up a bit. I think this will require merely a little trimming, but as I clip gingerly, diligently looking for fresh buds to preserve, I see that in order to aid this cheerful guy’s circulatory system, and enable it to restore itself from the inside out, there is some nasty business to be dealt with. (Insert scrunched nose and cue juvenile “Ooh yuck.”- after all, I am a novice gardener.)
Dead leaves, drippy brown branches, discarded blooms, well along on their journey of reincarnation into mere nutrients to enrich this year’s bounty, drape stemmy- infrastructure and floor with slimy, snail-infested messiness. Ick. What, from the outside, looks like a healthy plant with a few straggling patches in need of a trim, is really a slimy salmagundi ** that endangers the health of this giant geranium.
You can see where this is going in the realm of spiritual imagery, I’m sure. I could probably stop writing. But this is my blog, so I will finish.
How often do I treat sin with the same sort of “Oh, a little trimming here and there will suffice” attitude, when really there is a dead mess within that needs a great deal of hacking and overhaul?
Now hear me, and hear me good. This is not about self-absorbed introspection that leaves you wallowing in a guilt trip. No way. If you go there, you have entirely missed the good news of our Most Gracious, Sacrificial Savior. Instead, might we look past the appearance of things, surprising in their superficiality, and see what infects or infests down deep where the circulatory system of our soul needs healing, in order to flourish and beautify our world, as intended? Might we glorify God as we ask Him to rid us of the deadwood?
To be specific, rather than looking to eliminate a few carelessly spoken words laced with negativity, perhaps I should drag out the critical spirit that rots below and ask our Patient Father to forgive and replace it with His gracious love that “bears all things”.
Instead of merely abstaining from candy this Lent, what about asking the Lord to increase my appetite for His comfort, His delight, and a renewed commitment to finding ways to sweeten others’ ever so daily-days with a bit of joy?
Hear this, oh my soul: this spirit of this examining and extracting is meant to be a freeing one. It is a kneeling humility before my Abba Father who waits with arms wide open, not a self-loathing exercise in following man-made rules with whatever grit I can manage.
I want to bloom, from the inside out, in healthy, rich blossom. So prune as you see fit, God of this great garden.
* Perspicuity- insight. (New one to me.)
**Salamagundi- one of those extremely cool words I stumbled upon in a recent trip to the thesaurus. It means “hodge-podge”, “miscellaneous collection”. I dare you to work that into your dinner conversation tonight.
…Dedicated to my talented El Dorado County-home friends, the Kathys, Diane, and Cheri, who coax wild beauty for us all to enjoy from that rocky mountain soil…