Of all allusions to growth of the spiritual life, perhaps it’s weeding the garden which is most of all poignant.
I must admit that I’m not a keen gardener, so when my wife ‘invited’ me to join her to do an hour or two of weeding recently I reticently agreed and got into gardening mode. But it wasn’t long before God started talking to me... via the anatomy and physiology of weeds!
Let’s begin our survey of weeding from the point of view that weeds represent the anti-growth in the realm of our spirituality.
What I noticed most about the weeds I pulled was the vast array of different root structures compared with the foliage. Some weeds had roots that shot deep into the ground, whilst others set their foundations wider, scuttling across the near-surface.
Some of the problems that enter our lives plunge straight for the depths—these are the ones only we (and God) know about, or perhaps a loved one or three. Yet, these sorts of problems present discernible challenges to our spirituality; they can ruin our relationships, our livelihoods, and worse, threaten our very lives.
Other problems contend in vastly different ways. They sprinkle through our life at surface level, like the character trait. If we’re impatient with different people in different contexts, the ‘impatience weed’ has sets its roots broadly. Its impact isn’t as significant as the deeper problem, but it’s broadness of ‘application’ is difficult to address.
Some weeds I approached with ease, finding them surprisingly difficult to pull—leaving, in some cases, whole or part of their root structures in the ground. Others, conversely, had a foreboding appearance and I approached them prepared for a fight—these ones presented less of a challenge and were easy to pull.
Until we take a good look at the problems in our lives—those that are generated or sorted spiritually—we’re often ignorantly unaware of their insidious nature to take control over us and take us places we don’t really want to go.
We need to address our problems with the right amount of effort and focus according not simply to appearance, but to the actuality of the problem in truth.
Remaining intimately aware of the exact nature and appearance of our problems—whilst it’s quite painful in some ways—is always a good thing. Ignorance isn’t ever bliss.
Just How Many Weeds?
It’s not until we get into our gardens and begin pulling those weeds that we even begin to realise just how bad the problem’s become. We think an hour should do it—having left it for several months—and then we find we’ve got a rude awakening in store for ourselves. Five hours is making a good start!
Without a good spiritual ‘maintenance’ program we’ll have problems sprouting everywhere, even in places we don’t readily see. It’s not until we decide to get active in the gardens of our spirituality that we’ll even begin to realise how bad things have become and just how much work we must now invest to bring order to the situation.
Reals Joys to Come
The ‘joys’ of weeding are many and varied; the biggest joy of all, however, is real.
We get to maintain the garden of our hearts and minds, tending them as a home not for weeds, but for God’s manifest and holy Presence.
And these joys are the ones coming.
As we invest in our sowing, carefully removing weeds by the root, we reap; for the place is now prepared for God to come in... and where there’s light (unlike for weeds in gardens) the darkness doesn’t stand a chance.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.