So, things have been pretty dry around here. It is the time of year when you can tell exactly how much people water their lawns, because the shade of green (or yellow) is a dead giveaway. The one thing that never ceases to amaze me about drought is that weeds still thrive under such circumstances. Before I pulled them today, they were flourishing in my remaining rock beds, by our lightpost, in my tomato pots, under my deck and of course in the grass itself. We get actual little trees popping up in our back yard since the dead grass back there does not get mowed, but those pointy little buggers do!
I have tried a few things that I thought would be fool proof guards against these unwelcome botanical visitors. The first was to put down that landscaping stuff in my little garden in the front yard. I ripped it up after a season because of the great difficulty I had trying to plant anything new, and because the mulch I had to put over it to keep it down was getting all over the place. The second was the area under our deck, which I put the same landscaping stuff on but then left for a season because I just never finished filling the area with mulch. This year, the area that I did cover well is now blooming with an altogether new variety of weed. I can only guess there were tiny seeds or spores or whatever in the mulch we got free from the compost pile. And then there is the issue of the landscaping rocks I have already blogged about twice. No need to remind you that those had long outgrown their weed-prevention effectiveness.
So, what to do about weeds? Our parochial vicar was showing us the great landscaping strides he made in his little courtyard at the rectory, and provided this insight. He said that he understood now why men of all ages spend so much time in their yards with every imaginable method of weed removal. It is a battle.
His comment coincided with a realization that had been slowly dawning on me like creeping charley moving across my yard into my neighbors’. There is no easy way to win the Weed War. It must simply be fought. The only guarantee is that if you give up, you will lose.
And so it is with life. I think sometimes we put down landscaping fabric or even old trash bags over our wounds and sins and vices and cover them up with mulch, thinking that the sparkling facade will last forever. And maybe we do look great for many years. But sooner or later, the roots of those little nasties begin to creep their way to the surface. We have to continually engage in the battle.
This is why people sometimes look at the saints as being overscrupulous or even downright bizarre. When told that John Paul II and Mother Theresa went to Confession every day, some of my teens looked at me as if to say, “wow, what freaks”. In a similar way I have been guilty of secretly mocking people with really nice yards. But in backyards or souls, the truth is, the more diligent you are, the more sparkling the outcome. The more we pull weeds, or treat them, the fewer we will have. The more we confess our sins, work on virtue and seek healing for our hurts, the closer to holiness we come. There are no shortcuts. And actually, when we do engage in things we think will finally land us the easy life, we often end up later having to still dig out the weeds, but having to pick through all the rocks we threw on top, as well.
You would think this realization, both in my yard and in my heart, would be a huge bummer. But it is actually very freeing. Before I felt frustrated all the time that things weren’t easier. That the weeds wouldn’t just die already, that broken things in my life wouldn’t be instantly fixed. To recognize life as a battle is to see things clearly. To make peace with the struggle, and to realize that since Jesus has won our victory, the only way to lose is to just give up.
Plus, the process of getting holy is totally “green”. No harmful chemicals involved. Sometimes you get a twofer.