Lately, when the weather cooperates, I’ve been spending a lot of time in our yard. I spend much of my time in the yard doing yard work and contemplating things, all sorts of things – relationships, health, religion, family, work, and sometimes even gardening. Sure, I’m weeding, pruning, planting, and tending to my yard, but for me, that’s pretty mindless. Which means my mind has plenty of time to wander. And wonder it does.
During one of my recent garden musings, I came up a new mantra for myself: Be a weed.
Why would anyone want to be a weed? Most of the time, when people think of weeds they think of ugly, scraggly, tap rooted, invasive, dirty, pollen laden plants. But really, the definition of a weed is just something that grows where we don’t want it to grow; or more precisely, it’s something growing where we didn’t plant it, and most likely don’t want it. An heirloom, rare plant, with goergoeus blooms could be a weed. The same weeds that grow along the side of the highway are often cultivated in suburban gardens. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Weeds often flourish in conditions that other plants might find harsh. How many times do I feel like I’m trying to flourish in less than ideal conditions? Every Winter I struggle to make it through the grey, dreary days of January and February. Every year I struggle with managing my allergies and autoimmune issues. I struggle every week trying to figure out the best way to manage a young fledgling company. Yet, how many times do I survive these conditions? Maybe I don’t come through them thriving, but I make it through and life moves on. Sometimes life can be harsh. Be a weed.
In our yard, there are a number of tenacious weeds that I’m constantly battling by pulling, chopping, spraying with vinegar, or teaching the dog to pee on them. Sometimes The Goat is unknowingly on the weeds’ side – he thinks the weeds are pretty, or part of my Grand Garden Scheme, and he mows around them. These persistent weeds continue to sprout and return. How often do people in my life feel like they can pull up my roots, chop away at my growth, hit me with negativity or urinate on my feelings and ideas? While I work on eliminating those negative influences from my life, which can be a long, long, weary process of it’s own, I need to remember: Be a weed.
I’m a lazy gardener, I don’t spend much time watering my plants. But even though we live in a rainy area and don’t need to water daily, not all plants do well with out regular, scheduled, watering. Except those dang weeds. “Thirsting for…” is a very spiritual phrase, in many cultural and religious backgrounds. It’s often used to describe a desire to learn more about something, be it spiritual, emotional, or just general knowledge. “Soak it up/in”, and “Drink it up/in” have similar connotations. They both imply a desire to hoard or contain as much of something as possible. While some plants like a regular watering and are always thirsting for more, weeds tend to soak up the water when it’s available. Things are a bit dry in my spiritual life right now. I need to remember that the spiritual resources, people, and experiences I am thirsting for may not be present in my life currently, but they will be. Be a weed.
Many of the plants in our yard were once weeds. Many of them just sprouted in places I didn’t plant them, and I left them there. I have strawberries, rhubarb, 3 trees, and countless violas and ferns that have simply grown where Mother Nature (or the local fauna) planted them. These “weeds” have flourished. They are reliable, strong, healthy plants. They chose the spot, weather, soil, and surroundings that suited them best, not the locations that I think suit them best.
The largest weed in our yard is an oak tree. I didn’t plant it. There’s something about the dependability of that strong, sturdy, oak tree. It supports The Goat’s hammock, serves as a trellis for his hops, houses at least one avian family each year, provides food for the local chippies and squirrels, provides mulch for my blueberries and flowerbeds, and survives all the regular and unseasonable weather in our region. But at one point, that strong tree was just a tiny seedling that I didn’t bother to pull when I was weeding. And it flourished. Now, when I think of a weed, I think of that oak tree. Be a weed.
So I ask, again, why would anyone want to be a weed?