Sabbath Evenings – Weeding and Such
[Co-written with my son Jonathan, 21. Thanks son!]
My Journal entry for June 14, 2010:
Summer is here. Thank you Lord Jesus for this season of unhurried time for quiet summer mornings out on the patio. I have everything I need around me: A pot of French Pressed coffee and a warm mug. My Moleskine journal and a Pilot G2 Gel Pen—black. Reading material including my Bible, two books–one Christian and one counseling-oriented. I also have a bottle of bug spray—unscented. Thank you Lord for this nice chair where I can sit and watch the beauty of morning sunshine streaming through the trees, day lilies in bloom, the song of a Wren and Cardinal nearby, a light breeze giving rise to a whirring windmill, our small garden and . . . weeds. Weeds! Into my delightful morning, weeds? Intruders–all of them! They are even here by my feet creeping through the cracks of stone. I’m being invaded.
I continued to have some sarcastic fun writing about weeds. After awhile, I called Jonathan, our farmer son to “talk a spell.” During our conversation I walked to the garden and started weeding. He fills me in on his interesting life. Bending down [still in my Pajamas] a sweat bead dribbles down to the end of my nose. He’s still talking while I pull clumps of crabgrass out of the ground, toss them over to the side all the while groaning. They are legion in number (!) Jonathan asks me why I am panting and there begins a dialogue about weeding.
For you to get a picture, dear reader, our yard is big here at our seminary home. Lots of beds to care for. This year I opted to pull weeds instead of using chemicals. Was this a mistake? I want my Round-up to kill them–kill them all in one fail swoop. Jonathan is patient. He doesn’t interrupt me while I rant and raise a stink about weeding. I hear an occasional chuckle on his end.
Finally, I ended my protest, “Enough about me son, how are you?” He responds, “Mom, weeding is a very spiritual experience. It’s a good time for thinking and reflecting.” Stupefied, I sat back down in my chair. Intrigued at the thought that there could be anything redemptive about weeding, Jonathan began to convince me otherwise. I asked him to write some of his thoughts on “weeding.”
Weeding a garden bed is a curious and humbling thing. Rarely do you find an animal at the top of the food chain bending and bowing itself to serve a lower species. But that is exactly what we are doing isn’t it? Humans lower themselves to the ground and take on sore backs and sore knees all for the sake of what? Some tomato plant? Jesus said, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matt. 20.16) Is this what He was talking about? Weeding?
But maybe we are only seeing part of a circle. Weeding is a way to serve the plant. For as I weed the tomato plant I am making room for it to flourish. As the tomato flourishes, so do I flourish and am given energy from the sun, through the tomato that gives me life. Now I am refreshed and revitalized to go weed the onions!
The act of weeding is a slow and meditative act. It is a humbling and steady reminder that I am not God. In knowing and acknowledging this fact, life will become more whole. In weeding I realize my smallness, I make room for the tomato plant to flourish, but it is Yahweh who makes it grow. Ever am I at the mercy of the rains and the winds; ever am I at the mercy of my Creator. I may make small changes to this earth as a shepherd might make to his/her flock, but it is God who rules this place. As I live here I would be pleased to be half as good a shepherd to this earth as Christ is to me and the rest of humanity. When we realize our place as shepherds and not rulers we will see a beautiful dance unfold; a dance of people and God and Creation working and flowing together creating life and abundance.
Jonathan speaks from experience. The previous week he had spent three hours weeding two beds of Basil. Sometimes he weeds up to four or five hours a day “making room” for, in this case, “strawberries to flourish.” I listened and honored his view on weeding. It was powerful. The words that stuck with me included humbling, bending down, “weeding serves the plant so it may flourish” . . .
I’m still thinking about weeding and Jonathan’s remarks. He has arrived at an appreciation for an activity that I mostly despise. This will take awhile for me to process. Mostly resistance on my part. One thing I know for sure is that our Creator God humbles Himself, bends down, pulls out the weeds that keep us flourishing. For example the weed of bitterness: “Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.” (Hebrews 12:15, MSG) It is an act of intentional love and service on God’s part. Once we bear fruit, we nurture others. A dear friend of mine said it best — We can be a “nutritious” friend, spouse, parent, etc This glorifies our loving God and gives Him much delight and pleasure!
“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” (Matthew 13.3-9, NLT)