Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Kneeling, hunching over a 4x4-foot garden section, perspiring profusely, plucking and pitching weeds, I'm beyond tears. The tears had come two weeks ago when I first saw the mauvaises herbes (French for weeds is aptly, literally, bad grass). I'd been so pleased that I'd made the effort to wrestle the wheelbarrow with the flat tire across the bumpy field to the community compost pile and back to enrich the soil of the little "salad square" of my community garden plot. I'd planted five rows of seeds, but seemingly before they'd had a chance to sprout, my salad square was a carpet of green. And I mean CARPET. Wall-to-wall shag. Apparently, the compost contained some kind of grass seed, and now I had an unwanted lawn where I wanted vegetables. When I first saw this had happened, my throat felt thick, my eyes watered, my heart sank. Gardening was already a lot of work, and now this ~ nuisance work.

After procrastinating several weeks, I decide today to tackle this task. Three potential helpers bag out. I feel really alone. Just me, my resigned sighs, and my muddy kneeling pad. Oh, and God. Who I'm talking to. And who seems to be showing me things. Like some parallels between this task and other hard things in life.

Oddly, I'm not angry with the compost provider. Oddly, I'm not angry with some recent critics of my writing. They both made things more difficult for me, but their intent was to help. And I know God will bring good from both types of mauvaises herbes.

Pluck. Pitch. Pluck. Pitch. For being only about two inches tall, these weeds sure have deep roots, some four or six inches long. I think about little unkind words exchanged with my husband and am sobered by their deep roots in longstanding hurts and anxieties. Pulling weeds feels somehow relationally freeing. Catch for us the ... little foxes that ruin the vineyards ... (Song of Songs 2:15).
Certainly my salad square is doomed; I see nothing here but weed grass. Pluck. Pitch. Pluck. Pitch. What? Scalloped edges of a cilantro seedling? And another? Only two of the whole row of cilantro seeds I'd planted, but still ... I'm as excited as Monet bringing his first water lily to life with a brushstroke. Pluck. Pitch. Pluck. Pitch. Oh my goodness ~ feathery carrot tops? They grew! I bet some of the seeds of diligence planted in my writing have sprouted, too. And some of the seeds of obedience to Christ planted in my marriage have also pushed their way up through weeds of wounds and disobedience. Suddenly, I feel encouraged about ~ well, everything.

The most precious part of today's tedious weeding is God's companionship. I find myself singing, When life's comforts fail and helpers flee, Help of the helpless, Oh Lord, abide with me. Sweet.


tandemingtroll said...

What a great post! It was just what I needed as I have been looking over the past year. Plus, God has been pulling some really OLD, well established weeds out of my life recently. Thank you!

Ferree Bowman Hardy said...

I'm with you--your writing pulled me in--pluck, pitch, pluck, pitch. Plenty of weeding to do in my own heart, too. Great post!