Many Hearts Walking Together
Matthew 13: 1-23
Every year when I look to my garden in spring I wonder what on earth I was thinking when I planted all that stuff in the first place. How could I have been so naïve to believe that the flowers would simply grow, and the weeds would not?
And then there’s the plants I expected to come back year after year and didn’t. My neighbor has a black walnut tree, and I’ve learned the hard way that not everything grows under a black walnut tree. It literally poisons the competition! And sometimes expensive plants just unexpectedly up and die. The nerve.
But it’s the weeds that really get me. And this year a new one moved into my garden and into my lawn. It’s called Lesser Celandine also known as Ficaria Verna, Pilewort andFig Buttercup. An import from Europe it is now known as an invasive species, and when they say invasive, they mean it. Lesser Celandine is very deceptive. It looks so pretty! Foolish people have even been known to dig it up from the forest and plant it in their own gardens. But this stuff spreads like nothing else, by tubers, bulblets and seeds. It gets established early before anything else has a chance to grow and spreads like wildfire. It quickly chokes out all local plants and grass. It hogs all the space underground so nothing else can grow. Before you know it, Lesser Celandine can take over your entire yard.
Bad? Oh yes, bad, but even worse, it pollinates nothing. It feeds nothing. It takes and takes, and gives back nothing. And we’re fooled because at first it looks pretty. And the only way to get rid of it is to dig it up completely, throwing out not just the plant but huge chunks of soil too in case anything is missed. Of course there is one herbicide that works—but for only 2 weeks out of the year, and it kills everything else too.
As I’ve been doing the necessary backbreaking work of digging out Lesser Celandine I couldn’t help but think about the other Lesser Celandines in my life. Addiction fits with uncanny accuracy. It looks lovely to begin with, works underground and finally takes over completely, taking everything and giving nothing back. But other less life threatening things can invade too. Jesus told a parable of a sower who spread seed on shallow ground, thorny ground and good soil. The shallow ground spouted quickly but did not last. The good soil produced abundant growth. But the thorny ground was the battleground. That’s where the Lesser Celandine and other weeds grow. The good seed tries to get established, but the weeds move faster.
I may begin as clean soil or weedy soil, but no matter how I start, there will be weeds. Things will arrive that look pretty. I won’t be alarmed at first because the invader looks harmless, even nice. But when I’m not paying attention that harmless looking invader can grow and take over larger and larger portions of my life. We can become addicted to anything. If it looked awful I’d do something right away. But it doesn’t look awful. It never looks awful! It’s just sports, or work, or technology or entertainment. My invasive “weed” threatening to take over my life can even be worry, and everybody worries, right?
Most of us are slow learners. Often it’s only when everything else in our lives has been shoved aside and we have no time for God, no time for our faith community, no time for our spouse or children and we think about nothing else, that we realize that we have been crowded to the very edge of our own lives, because there’s no room for us either.
It is always best to tackle any problem when it is small, but with God, it is never too late. With toxic weeds, however, there can be no half measures. I have to dig it out completely. I have to be thorough. Whatever “it” is, “it” has to go. And then, once the invader is gone, I must remain vigilant, because as long as I’m alive, there will be weeds.