After the generous spring rains here in Phoenix, we have been blessed with an array of beautiful wildflowers and a rare green hue covering the mountainsides. We also have been overwrought with an abundance of weeds. One must take the good with the bad as they say.
Pondering the beauty that lay before me on a hike recently, I concluded that the seeds for weeds and wildflowers are always there lying dormant, waiting for the right conditions to spring forth and become what they are destined by nature to be. A “weed is a weed” no matter how you dress it up.
Long after the wildflowers have faded the weeds have remained. Our open spaces and rock landscapes are filled with weeds that are quite resistant to chemicals. I spent hours one Saturday, hand pulling what must have been hundreds of weeds. Plucking away in my yard I used the time to pray and it occurred to me that our lives reflect nature. In our hearts are the seeds of opportunity that can be used for good or evil, which lay dormant waiting for the right conditions to grow. Unlike nature, we are not a weed “or” a flower. God made us good. While concupiscence plays a role, it is always our choice to do good or evil.
As I yanked up the weeds by their roots I tried to imagine the terrain of my own soul. What were the little sins that could be easily rooted-up but are found in abundance there? Which were the sins that had taken up residence and had roots so deep that a jackhammer was required? What kinds of conditions are right for growing flowers or growing weeds? How easily do I resist temptation to grow a weed? If my soul looked anything like my yard, I was in trouble and a “911 call” was needed for the Master Gardener.
As mothers we try to properly form our children by nurturing the wildflowers of good behavior when they are young through hoeing, fertilizing, and watering the good seeds. We also try to pull out the weeds as they make themselves known, guiding them instead towards the good. Gardening requires constant care and attention and weeds are easily taken care of when small. The real challenge begins when those sweet cherub faces turn into snarly teens and disinterested young adults. Not only do we get booted from their gardens, they often invite in other influences that can wreak havoc on the garden we tenderly cultivated for so many years. What’s a gardener to do, except call in the experts. It is at that time the tools and tactics must change. Instead of hoeing it is time for more aggressive praying. Fertilizing and watering become the work of the Master and we get to step back and watch Him do what He does best. At times it is painful to observe, we want to rescue and intervene. Yet when we do, we get in the way of real progress and the work of the One who knows what He is about.
Occasionally, I find myself reminiscing over photos of a time that has long gone by, wishing to go back and enjoy those crazy times when I was the ring leader of my own wild little circus act. “Direct your attention if you will, to the center ring where my daughters are painting their faces with permanent marker.” And not to be outdone, “for your pleasure look high above to see my sons playing baseball…. on the roof.” Yes, those were the days and ones I thought I would never survive. Yet looking back they really weren’t so scary after all because I could safely tuck them into bed at seven and they stayed put. God never gives us more than we can handle and I must trust that He has been busy at work not only in my soul but in the souls of the ones I love and hold dear. Each moment of our lives He lovingly tends our gardens and will not leave until they are just as He would have them be. Growth is painful after all, and requires pruning that allows the potential to truly become all that He intends us should be.