Actual weeds on my actual lawn…
Since the snow disappeared, the weeds have been working their way up with the grass we planted last fall. I am not sure what I expected, but these weeds didn’t meet my expectations. They made me tired just looking at them.
These weeds weren’t the same kind as the ones that grew three feet high from the clay that now lies under topsoil and a spotty, fledgling lawn. They must have come in with the soil. Tall and spindly, they grew in an even pattern all over the front and back yard, as though someone had planted them in rows and columns. They grew faster than the grass and more consistently. I was not impressed.
And then we got a puppy, and we now have an excuse to stand around in the grass with nothing much to do, except wait…and pull weeds, apparently. I have been paying the kids a penny a weed, and I’ve paid out over thirty dollars and I would be broke if I had not done most of the weeding myself. But a few square feet at a time, over the last weeks, I’ve been pulling weeds in endless lawn. It is a first world problem and like most of these kinds of problems, it offers a priceless spiritual lesson.
As I was squatting down to pull some of the last of what will undoubtedly be the first round of weeds, I realized that they have grown on me. They have these tiny little white flowers on the top. The stalks are sturdy, but thin, so they hold together well and give a really satisfying whole-root-leaving-the-earth sound when I pull them. Round leaves decorate them all the way up, and just this week, each leaf is growing large enough to reveal what looks like a seed pod. It is a good thing I am pulling them now!
I have been wrestling with my imperfection of late, especially when it comes to being a wife and mom. Feeling the discomfort of my resistance to some of the harder parts of family life, I took the questions to my spiritual director, eager for some answers. I should know better by now than to expect God to work in a particular way, but I do not. He found me in the weeds.
As my director listened and gently asked questions, I heard myself saying that I was really afraid of how hard the work is in dealing with my faults. So, I avoid the work by keeping God out. Then, as I felt myself opening the gate to let God in, he reassured me that the hard work is already done: the hardest part is admitting I need help and letting God in to do the weeding.
The weeds are actually pretty lovely, to be honest. My selfishness has beautiful reddish tints, not unlike my hair, and it makes way for asking Marc and the kids for forgiveness. Every time I recognize the weed, and allow it to be seen, God wraps delicate fingers around it. He knows that some of the roots remain, that all too many of the pods have already gone to seed, that more of my selfishness remains. And He sees that small hole in the grass that is all the good I am doing, and He sees the room for more loving responses and actions to be planted.
These weeds and messes in the garden of our family life, only some of which are mine, these are the places that God is gardening. The hard work is already over when I have begun to love the weeds. Love is really all they have ever wanted, both the ones growing in my yard and in my soul. They have yearned for the same water and sunlight, the same loving hands as the grass and flowers and the rest of me.
All of creation is imagined by God, bound up by the limits and endless possibility of single myriads of cells, loved beyond loved. My resistance is to loving the pain alongside the pure joy of my life, the mutated cells alongside the typical ones, the weeds alongside the flowers. And I seem to need waiting on puppy elimination to pull my reluctant feet into damp grass and earth and waiting weeds to help me to see.
And then, am I deluding myself? In the late evening, do the weeds lift to my hand more easily when they are loved? Do they sense that they are less hated, no longer rejected, no longer feared? Are they cooperating with my growth? Do the weeds know the gift they are? Or is it just yesterday’s rain and my imagination?