My favorite garden activity is...wait for it... weeding. When my fingers are busy uprooting all the unwanted plants that spring up in every little patch of bare dirt, my thoughts are busy elsewhere. I need to be watchful about what fills my mind during those quieter moments. If I’m not careful, I can wear a rut in my brain, worrying about something beyond the scope of my control…which is just about everything except my own actions and responses.
Lessons from the Garden of Weedin'
Not true, they were where I wanted them, but they were everywhere else too.
The stepping stone walkway I’ve created (to bypass a needed but unloved guide wire, future blog post?) in my garden was neatly edged with dozens of volunteer seedlings – feverfew, hollyhock, and poppies lined up along the rocks like children pushing and shoving to see a parade. Exuding potential, the various verdant sprouts filled every possible bit of empty space.
And that was the problem. Because I like a certain amount of brown space in my garden view.
In fact, I need it, especially in the paths.
I need to be able to find the path.
I knew what would come of these lovely sprouts – two foot tall plants, dozens of them, flopping over the rocks, burying the paths, making it hard for me to find my way, obscuring the path for others too. They had to go.
I wish I had learned this lesson sooner,
the value of bare space in life,
the joy of nothing,
and for my children.
In a recent conversation with a friend, she mentioned her struggle with figuring out “enough” for her life. When has she done enough in her job, in her family’s lives, in her housework, in her church involvement? We talked about allowing space for “nothing,” and about how hard it is to remember that this “nothing” is “something,” that it might be indispensable.
We need those bare spaces in our lives. We need room to breathe. To rest. To be creative. To think long thoughts or no thoughts at all.
As I continued weeding, I remembered hearing an interviewer ask a woman this question: “What do you wish you had done differently?” This woman had invested deeply in her family, homeschooling the children for many years, focusing on good nutrition and encouraging creative expression; they may have been homesteaders. I don’t remember all the details. But I do remember her response: “I wish I had baked less bread.”
Is baking bread bad? Of course not, but somewhere along the way, she had discovered the truth that
all those good bits can squeeze into every bare space in the garden and obscure the path.
Uprooting handfuls of potentially amazing activities –(I won’t try to name yours, but maybe you should) – might be painful in the early stages. But I’m here to say those small bits will grow to full size and produce seeds of their own, and if you’re not careful, you might discover that your path has disappeared, that you’ve lost your way among all the growing busy-ness.
A few bucketfuls of weeds later, order was restored. Feverfew and poppies and hollyhocks are emerging in other corners of the garden, but the path will not be choked with them anytime soon.
I want to be able to find my way through the garden, and I want to keep the path clear for others who walk with me or behind me.