|Flower or weed?|
Weeds are the chaos that grows in our carefully tended garden; dandelions in the lawn of life.
But who designates weedness and determines the criteria for judgment? Why are dandelions to be plucked out while daisies are to be cherished and placed in vases on the dining room table? Why is wild abundance abhorred and destroyed in favor of domesticated scarcity?
Farmers pour poison into the earth in order to insure the production of what is designated as food, yet my grandmother used to take me weed collecting in order to have a meal of dock and poke greens and lamb’s quarters and even dandelions. In her world these weeds were food.
It makes me wonder about the weeds within ourselves … those sprouting bits of chaos that we quickly eradicate because someone … our parents, our churches, our cultures … has deemed them unacceptable weeds. How do we know they are weeds? is the child’s fascination with mud a weed to be removed or the beginning of the journey toward sculpture … or engineering … or culinary genius?
How many weeds have we pulled out of our own life garden? Weeds that might have flowered and become a vibrant addition to the world?
Weeds have a headstrong insistence on life on their own terms, in their own way, in their own places. Weeds care not for rules and boundary lines. They are not influenced by the wants and desires of the world around them. By their very nature they are uncontrollable, growing through concrete, sprouting up in impossible cracks, obstinately growing in the tidiest gardens.
Perhaps that’s why we fear them so and feel no remorse when we fill our garden sheds with weed killers and our Saturday mornings with digging and hoeing and making tall piles of green waste that will bring our lives back into order. Perhaps that’s why we wear 3-piece suits and panty hose. They are our anatomical weed killers, holding back the wildness that might break out if we weren’t constantly reminded to be on guard.
But … what if … just what if … we let a few weeds blossom and come to fruit? What might we discover about life and ourselves? What if pouring the gentle rain of attention onto some of our weeds revealed new talents, new possibilities, new ways of feeling our way into the world. What if those weeds were actually the better part of ourselves?
Thinking about the weeds within myself makes me want to be gentler with those new seedlings that show up unexpectedly, those bits that seem wild and perhaps even inappropriate but which are part of me. Perhaps they don’t look like the American Beauty Rose that I was hoping for but they are mine and deserve their day in the sun. They deserve the gentle rain of attention and I want to honor them and let them feel their way into the world. I am beginning to feel very protective toward them.
Thanks to Bob Branstrom who prompted this thinking and gave me the motto: Embrace the Weeds!
A few others who joined this virtual conversations at various points along the time continuum ...
"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Fortune of the Republic, 1878
"Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them."
"A weed is but an unloved flower."
~Ella Wheeler Wilcox, poet
~Ella Wheeler Wilcox, poet