Sunday, September 4, 2011

Living with Weeds

Maybe I've never told the story here. When we bought our house, there was a hole in the roof that let rain in, every surface was covered with wallpaper and/or mould, and the garden was a tangle of vines and goldenrod. We excavated with the help of many friends, family and contractors. It took a matter of many months and one herniated disk.

I think it was a year and a half later that we noticed that part of the back lawn -- about the size of a bathtub - was filled with little scalloped leaved and purple flowered weeds. The next time we looked, the entire back lawn -- the size of, oh, eighty bathtubs -- had been taken over by this same weed.

We called in the "Let's Curb Pesticides!" people (yes, that's their real name) for an evaluation. Their diagnosis: creeping charlie. Their prescription: mow the lawn down to nothingness, saturate with water and cover with tarps. Anything else would simply send the weeds into temporary hiding. So, we did as we were bid and soon our lawn was a patchwork of blue and black tarps.

Two weeks later, the tarps began to rise. Or so I thought. A week later, I was certain and peeked underneath to see a Thriving Crop of Creeping Charlie growing merrily away. The Let's Curb Pesticides people returned, shook their heads and said there was a time and a place for pesticide.

We hired the pesticide people who came and sprayed and killed every last thing in the yard. They recommended we sod instead of seed, because that gave a thick matting that would discourage any errant seeds or spores from making it through. There were no guarantees.

It's four years later now. Often as I weed the dreaded rock garden adjacent to the former home of Creeping Charlie, I find a tendril of the enemy lurking among a couple of plants.

"CHUCK!" I cursed the first time I found the rogue. And the second and the third.

Today, I was weeding the garden and the lawn and I found some again, but today I didn't yell. I just found what I could and rooted it out. You see, it made me think of two things: one, a friend and two, a sermon.

The friend is living with cancer, and has been for almost fifteen years, on and off. The sermon, this morning,was about sin.

Surprisingly sin is not talked about much in church these days, at least not the churches I've been in. It's a bit awkward, sounds judgmental, I guess. But that's not my spin on it. I find the concept of sin an enormous relief. Because like my garden and my friend, I am riddled with this thing I don't want in me, this thing I can't be rid of no matter how much I blast at it and try. To me, the relief of the church naming something as sin is that the cancers in me, or even the weeds, aren't something I can root out myself. They're woven into me. And I don't think sin in the Bible should ever be the end of the story, but only the beginning -- I'm reminded of Douglas Coupland's Generation X where he writes, "My secret is, I need God."

I can't make myself well. I can't root out every last weed. All I can do is need the One who can root it out or let it be, and gently remove the weeds I can find.

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