Monday, May 19, 2014

Pulling Weeds and Planting Beauty {Breathe}

I hate pulling weeds. 

I watch them sprout up in my yard and my heart sinks.  I concoct schemes about the easiest way to get rid of them - meaning the smallest amount of work for me.  I try any weed killer on the market that promises complete obliteration, but in the end it seems I must always grasp my little garden shovel in my hand and head outside.

If I want the weeds entirely gone, I need to dig - and dig deep.  My knees must get the imprint of grass gouged on them with dirt particles hitching a ride in the creases.  My back must bend (and ache later!) and my hand must use its surgeon's tool to cut out each and every weed.

The ground may be hard or soft, but the task of extracting the weed must be done.

So it is with life, right?  I can watch the weeds grow up around me hoping someone else will deal with them, but knowing reluctantly the burden lies with me.  It is the wrong or injustice I see in the world; it is the sour attitude in my heart; it is the frustrating situation that repeats itself again and again; it is the difficult conversation that needs to be had.  It takes many forms but there is a common denominator in them all...The weed must be named for what it is and fully, deeply (maybe painfully) be dug out at its roots.

That is the part of tending this garden of life I do not enjoy.  It means seeing the negative and having to confront it.  It is needed for sure, but to solely be a weed puller would create in me a constant critical eye that would only cause destruction around me.  I would become a bounty hunter of all things wrong - nit picking, living squinty-eyed and hard.  

And the garden is more than just pulling weeds.  It means cultivating the life that is there and planting beauty in places where there was none before.  So the digging tool which mercilessly eradicated the weed now digs holes for flowers to be placed in.

The knees are still marked with signs of the lawn; the back must still bend, but the hands do a different work.  Gone is the killer instinct and in its stead, a tenderness and care.  The eyes now see, not what is wrong, but calculate where to place the new plants for optimal beauty.  The finished weeding creates space for new possibilities.

Life gives us both weeds and opportunities to plant beauty.  We cannot ignore one for the other and we cannot sit nonchalantly by, hoping someone else will do the job.  Both are required of us. 

Both mean we must get our hands dirty and we will find life in all its grit lodged under our fingernails.

May we all have the courage to dig deep and pull out the choking weeds.  May we also have the courage to plant beauty in those open spaces.  And either way, may we love the look of dirt on our hands because it means we are living life.

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