As the days begin to lengthen and shades of green are added to the dull browns of winter, an excitement annually kindles in my spirit. From my earliest days, spring has always pricked my green thumb and inspired attempts to raise assortments of vegetables. When I was a young boy, I would race to my older brother’s garden and implore them to allow my miniature hands to assist them in their endeavors. I especially enjoyed the planting process; I would till the small portion of the garden assigned to me, and enthusiastically place the seeds within the dark soil. The hope and anticipation was tangible in the twinkle of my eyes and the spring in my step.
Unfortunately, the excitement of planting was soon replaced by the monotony of maintaining the vegetable sprouts. I remember showing an impressive aptitude of neither being seen or heard when my brothers wanted to weed or water the garden. While my disappearing act proved quite useful when my brothers were overseeing the garden, it became a real problem when I became the primary caretaker of the family garden. I remember the compliments from my father and brothers upon my preparations and planting of the garden; these were soon contrasted by the displeasure and disappointment they communicated upon my lack of diligence in maintaining the rows of vegetables.
After enduring a short reprimand from my father, I remember vividly plodding to the garden, dragging my hoe pathetically behind me. Upon arriving, my disdain morphed into despair. Where rows of sweet corn, beans, tomatoes, and other vegetables had once lined the garden, a convoluted tangle of vegetation lay before my little feet. As I slowly advanced through the foliage, I occasionally glimpsed a vegetable plant among the leaves and stalks of the weeds. After muttering under my breath and looking longingly toward my bike, I began to tackles the arduous task of reclaiming the soil from the army of invading weeds. Soon, I realized how difficult distinguishing between the vegetable plants and weeds could be. Various types of plants reflecting numerous shades of green muddled my mind, and I found myself occasionally destroying stalks of sweet corn or vines of cucumbers. Differentiating the nutritious vegetation from the multitude of botanic imposters was painstaking; it was a lengthy, scorching afternoon.
As I reflect back on my childhood gardening escapades, I cannot help but notice similar principles in my adult life. Life is very much like an unweeded garden as Shakespeare says through his most famous character, Hamlet. Weeding my personal garden on a regular basis is vital for nutritious vegetation to thrive in my life. The rank weeds of falsehood slither up and entangle with one another between the rows of my marriage, career, and faith. Left unabated, they begin to blur my sense of what is wholesome and good, muddling my mind as the tangle of weeds once did to me as a child. As I unwittingly struck down the stalks of sweet corn concealed within the woven weeds, so also do I unknowingly attack the stalk of morality and the vine of truth in the garden of life.
After being reprimanded by my father, I painstakingly had to remove the weeds from the garden without damaging the vegetable plants; likewise, weeding my life garden can be incredibly meticulous and frustrating. In order to make progress I must first obtain the ability to determine the identity of nourishing botany from water sucking vegetation. Failing to become knowledgeable of the truth will ultimately cause damage to the very morals and values Christians attempt to safeguard. Simply plowing into the problem blindly is a recipe for pain and disappointment.
Eventually, I reclaimed the garden as a boy and continued to maintain its many rows of vegetables until harvest. Upon removing the weeds, I learned that weeding was much easier when the vegetable plants were easily identified. Never again did I allow the weeds to overrun the garden; never again did I have such a difficult time of removing the weeds. Life can be an unweeded garden, but we must continually maintain the truths of God’s Word by removing the falsehoods that tangle their way into our lives.
At a Palatial Country Estate
February 17, 2013
"A Country Garden"
Oil on Canvas, 1892
Thomas James Lloyd