Spiritual Lessons from Gardening

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There’s nothing like playing in the dirt to give me some perspective.

I suppose I should call it “gardening,” and not let on that I’m still a beginner when it comes to the flowering plants and vegetables that dot the grounds around my house.  The truth is, though, that I really use it for therapy.  I guess that explains the weeds.

There seems to be no end to them.  My husband, who’s the Chief Executive of Vegetables, has a plan of hoeing and pulling weeds every day or two.  It’s a good plan, and the kids enjoy helping him.

As the First Lady of Flowers at our house, I have no such success.  No, the weeds tend to get as tall as my toddler before I see fit to beg my husband to dose them with Round-Up.  There will be wild mustard gone to seed, crabgrass as big as a dog, and small trees, all nestled in among my bee-balm and lavender and dianthus like they belong.

I guess they do belong, in a way.  One of my sisters-in-law pointed out that the abundance of butterflies probably has as much to do with the thistle as the flowering plants that are supposed to attract them. 

“The weeds are as much a part of the environment as the flowers,” she says, getting passionate, “and some of them are pretty.”

She has a point.  And I can’t help but feel the point a little closer to home when I’m sitting in Mass.

There, with my soul exposed, I see myself as so small, so imperfect, so far from holiness.  After an hour with Jesus, I start to notice that I have some weeds growing in my soul. 

Maybe it’s that hint of pride in how I refuse to accept someone’s gentle advice.  Perhaps it’s the habit I have of snacking just a little too much. 

Was I just wishing for an hour of silence, envying that retired woman her reading time?  Did I just give up on something because I was not trusting God to provide? 

Like the weeds in my garden, the weeds in my soul don’t need much to get started, and they seem to thrive when the flowers are wilting.

These weeds in my soul serve a purpose, at least when I recognize them for what they are.  They lead me to God and they make me long for more, for better, for beautiful.  In the flower garden God has designed for me, there are no prickly plants that will sting me in my bare feet.  Unlike the thistle in my side yard, the weeds in my soul need to removed.

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