Weeds. Their creeping tendrils surfaced with the snow’s fast melt recently. They are still there, making faces and sticking their tongues out at me, laughing at my theory that winter would kill them.
I was hoping to spare myself of a little weeding work at the end of the last growing season, relying on a cold, hard winter to do the work for me. While I was busy watching my crocus’ sprout and bloom over the past couple of weeks, I had been ignoring the other things that were growing in my garden. The bad weeds that I had neglected to pull last fall, had suddenly turned green and seemed to have doubled in size with the past week’s warm days.
It became obvious that, while my perennials are slowly growing and expanding their rooted footholds all winter . . . so are the weeds that escaped pulling in the fall. The good plants relished in a little downtime to extend their reach in my gardens, but so did the bad. Why is it we can’t have one without the other? The good without the bad? The bright and beautiful without the dark and threatening?
I sometimes wonder whether we can fully appreciate the “good” in the world without being witness to the bad. Do we need the bad as a sort of litmus test for what is truly good and how good it can be in comparison?
We live in a world where comparison has become the staple of our social lives. Facebook has risen as a harbinger of outdoing one another. It has become a platform to showcase families that are more perfect than imaginable, children that are smarter and wittier than others and friends that are truer, closer, funnier and more exciting than could have been expected. Even the pets flitter precariously close to what can only be deemed pooch perfection. It becomes a soapbox of perfection. A sprint that we all had no idea we were in for when we first signed up for Facebook.
You know them. They’re the ones that inadvertently make you feel your meager life is unworthy of even being accepted into the Facebook world. The ones that make you feel you can surely never attain that level of perfection in family, friends, children and pets. We all know them.
Life is construed as perfect, on all accounts. But life is never perfect. Just like in my little flower garden, the weeds will continue to sprout and grow if left untended. Eventually, the bad could have the power to overtake my garden, strangling my flowers, squeezing the life out of them, taking over more and more of my garden. So while we must take time to promote the good, to feed, water and sow them carefully, we must also take the time to fight the bad, with patience, stamina and continued vigilance.
As we work to grow our spiritual lives, isn’t the bad just outside, waiting for us to leave the door to our hearts unlocked for just a moment? It sneaks in unnoticed, lurking in the dark corners of our minds, creeping along the walls of our hearts with the day’s shadows, waiting patiently. We’ll never rid the shadows from our lives. They will be there, waiting and watching for a chance to slip in, waiting for us to give in to their tempting for just a moment.
And just like the weeds that grew silently and unnoticed in my garden all winter, they will arise one day when we’re weakest, hoping to capitalize on the fertilizer, mulch and water we’ve provided for our cherished blooms. The weeds will always be there. We’ll pull them, and they’ll return. We’ll leave their roots upended to burn under the sun, but somehow another will spring up again quickly in its place. They are a constant in my garden just like they will be a constant in life.
The good news is that we have control over the bad, all it takes is a little sweat, a few tools of the trade in our belt and the patient solace to understand that our “pulling” will never be done. And when we come to understand that we are each destined for a lifetime of weeding, pulling and thwarting the bad, we can finally take joy in the everyday toil that results in a blooming garden of good.