July 21, 2014

Wheat and Weeds

I hate to garden. But I really like the results.

A house seems so much warmer with an entry flanked by vibrant flowers. A backyard feels lived in with the turn of a red tomato or the wandering vine of a pumpkin.

Not only is gardening a chore for me, but also I’m not very good at it either. Nearly every plant we receive meets a lonely, thirsty end (or in some cases, death by drowning). Our best intentions are thwarted by lack of skill and attention.

That’s why I appreciate the parable of the wheat and the weeds from Sunday’s gospel reading (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43). I thank God that I don’t have to know the difference, to separate the good from the bad. I’d be forever plucking off flower buds while the dandelions take over.

In the corner of our yard are a small flowerbed and a lamppost. Some ivy has been working hard to overcome our green-thumb deficits but there’s still a lot of uncovered clay and soil. Last year the spot played host to our fall spray of gourds and pumpkins. Our son and his friends enjoyed the end of the season with a gourd fight, smashing them on driveway and ground. 

One seed from a warty gourd apparently found its way to the flowerbed. A few orange buds are beginning to flower, and the leafy vine is covering the rocky soil. 

In my life, among my family and friends, in my work, and at my church, I am thankful that I don’t have to separate the wheat from the chaff. Jesus tells me that I can leave that to the angels. I have learned about a deep and abiding faith from a homeless man (wheat or weed?) and experienced heartbreak from an abrupt cold-shoulder by a trusted friend and well-regarded community leader (wheat or weed?). 

Instead of categorizing people and events into good and bad, keep or discard, wheat or weed, I can focus on doing and being the best that I can, striving to offer a generous heart, a forgiving nature, a patient and encouraging demeanor. Maybe a few of the seeds I sow will find fertile ground after all.