On Giants' Shoulders

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Musings While Weeding

I've been doing a lot of weeding lately. I'm taking today off because I overdid it so much yesterday that I ache nearly from head to toe. However, it's been an interesting process, and the source of some reflection.

Our garden got very weedy, very quickly. This was in part do to a lot of rain, and in part due to the fact that it didn't get hoed early (according to my son, who prefers hoeing to weeding). I did weed part of the garden before our trip to St. Louis, but didn't get to all of it. When we got back I had to redo what I'd already done, made a bit of progress, but managed to get the mother of all sunburns and so was out of commission for weeding for another week. When I finally got back to it, the weeds were pretty phenomenal. I've been working my way through them and have done at least 3 hours worth each of the last couple of days.

Some of the weeds were really tall (as in up to my chin). They had stubborn roots and they certainly were heavy to pull and toss onto the pile. They overshadowed the actual vegetables.
Some of the weeds were things that, in another context wouldn't have been weeds at all. For example, our garden seems to be rich in something sometimes called Withywindle, it's a form of morning glory. Outside of the garden it's beautiful. In the garden it's destructive. It's more common name around here is bindweed. It attaches itself to the plants and is tremendously difficult to untangle and pull up without pulling up or damaging the plants themselves.

So, I began having some reflections on spiritual matters. I wondered whether Pope Benedict ever had to weed a row of onions awash in a sea of pig weed and bind weed. The pig weed hid the onions to a degree that I thought perhaps my husband had only planted half a row. As I got through the weeds I discovered more and more onions. Perhaps the Holy Father is able to look past the seed of weeds and see the true wheat in the Church. Perhaps also he is able to see that some things people see as good are more like bindweed: good in some settings, but not necessarily good as part of Mass.

One of the things I've noticed, however, is that when the weeds have grown really tall, the plants have actually come to depend upon them for support. Sometimes you have to cut the weeds, but leave them in place to allow the plants a chance to grow in the sunshine and become strong before you actually pull the weeds out. Simply pulling willy-nilly is apt to pull up plants, or damage the ones that are too weak to stand up by themselves.

Some plants seem to thrive in spite of the weeds (mustard, kale, turnips are examples of this) while others (like parsnips) are overwhelmed by them. Other plants muddle along in the midst of the weeds (chard for example), but don't really begin to grow until the weeds are pulled out. I'm sure there are parallels with the Church here as well.

One thing that happened yesterday was most annoying, and I'm sure that the Holy Father has experienced his own version of this. As I was weeding the onions, a great demon hoard arose (actually a swarm of mosquitoes) to vehemently object to what I was doing to their habitat. Clearly, they loved the sea of weeds, and didn't appreciate my uprooting them. I had to go to the house twice for various anti-bug remedies and even then they kept flying right around my eyes.

I'm still far from done with the weeding, but the garden is beginning to look more like a proper garden again and we have a chance of a decent harvest of onions, chard, and turnips, as well as the current enjoyment of all sorts of salad greens. Pope Benedict's weeding job is also far from completed, but we're beginning to see some fruits of that as well. Just don't be surprised when even some of the plants complain that the bindweed is being removed. They don't realize that some of it is about context. Clowns are great at a birthday party, but they are out of context at Mass. Ballet is beautiful, but not at Mass. Novelty has its place, but not at Mass. Let's continue to pray that the Holy Father will be able to gently untangle the Withywindle and provide an environment where the plants can really grow.


At 7:59 AM, Blogger Andrew Clarke said...

I enjoyed reading over this post. If you want to visit my blog, which
discusses Christian issues, it it http://threeswans.blogspot.com But I found your site when I was looking for believers who enjoy reading. May I suggest one, if you like the fiction of C.S.Lewis or Tolkien? "Outcasts Of Skagaray" was written out of strong feeling for the cruelty of an unGodly world. But it works towards a good outcome. If you feel like previewing it, there are sample chapters on www.threeswans.com.au and reviews, including one by an Australian Catholic lady.
I would love it if you read and enjoyed it, but whatever the case I greet you in the Lord. Here in Australia we are getting ready for World Youth Day, as you no doubt know. Blessings.


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