In the summer garden

Walk the thought, 2009 No. 1

My grandfather taught me to pull out the weeds in the garden.

I asked him what makes a plant a weed; he replied that it is any plant that grows where he does not want it to grow. It can be destructive, he explained. Weeds obstruct sunlight, suck up water, and snatch nourishing soil substances from other plants. They shelter insects and diseases that cause damage to others.

He asked me how my volunteer work had been coming along. As my generous donor, he had more rights to honest answers than the convenient “Everything’s great!” I would love to say on a restful Sunday morning. But I opened up and told him I had lost interest volunteering in one organization. Relationships weren’t nurturing and the bicker pulled everyone down.

Grandfather used to be an active member of the sole federation of businessmen in the community. He said there are five other business clubs now, each one believing in the nobility of its vision, taking a share of the membership base.

When you look closer, Grandfather continued, organizations are like you and me. We desire to be heard, sought after, listened to, or followed; otherwise, we become fearful of losing our own worth. We make life difficult for those who threaten us, so relationships bog down. Some of us take flight, search elsewhere, and create something to appease our troubled ego.

Weeds are like our fears. Is there an organization that is free from its own fears? Now I realized why Grandfather takes the garden under his wings. He twisted a weed around his index finger, held it fast with his green thumb, and slowly pulled it out from the ground. Cut deep into the roots because the roots must go.

The warm glow of the morning sun continued to spray upon the weeds, and during those moments when I looked at them intently, they resembled miniscule buds of the baby’s breath or the purple daisy-like flowers of the aster. Florists insert these in bouquets of long-stemmed graceful blossoms. I told Grandfather the weeds were creating softness in his garden, too.

Oh yes, of course, he chuckled, stood up and brushed the soil off his hands. With a visual taste for the refined, he stepped back and appreciated the weeds with me. They are pretty indeed. Weeds can be beneficial in some cases, Grandfather said. On empty land, they keep the soil intact. They nourish the birds. Some medicines that relieve pain are even made from weeds.

Then he clarified that a plant may be considered a weed in one place and not in another. The morning-glory is a weed pest in a vegetable field, but it is a lovely flower in a garden. If I find them beautiful, then weeds may become the delicate rosettes in my garden.

Until I have imbibed Grandfather’s lessons, I will continue to experience the same fears and discontentment wherever I volunteer in, whatever role I play. To uproot oneself is not always the better answer. My self-esteem can come only from an acceptance of who I am and the cultivation of my inner strengths. Let the subtle beauty of the weeds teach me this. /d/

Copyright 2007-2009


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