Lists. Sometimes they are good to keep and others times they simply define us. This week I have been working on a list. There are a number of things to do that go with being a home owner. It is not that I do not like doing them, it just seems hard to find the time. So, I took this week off in hopes of taking care of at least one and maybe two.
We first thought about finishing the flooring in three closets and then beginning work on remodeling one of the bathrooms. The weather turned those two projects into, "For a later date." Beautiful. Cool. Sunny. These must be ingredients for catching up on our flower garden "maintenance." Now maintenance generally means some regularity. We take our vehicles in for regular maintenance – oil changes. What on earth would someone do in a flower garden that could possibly be viewed as "maintenance." Read on.
We have two rather large flower gardens and two smaller ones. I would venture a guess the one along the road in our front yard to be at least three miles long. OK, I exaggerate. But, my body tells me this morning that it is either three miles long or we have gone too long between regular maintenance. You guessed it, tt is the latter. Weeds. Who would have thought there could be so many. You drive by every once in a while noticiing a weed here and there saying to yourself, "Sure need to get out here and weed the flower bed." We keep driving and never stop.
So, for two days I have pulled weeds filling a five gallon paint bucket and hauling the weeds off. I lost count but am certain, no exaggeration here, I have removed no less than 30 buckets full. That would equal 150 gallons! This morning I have some things to get done – posting is one of them! I sit here and every time I move it hurts here and here and here and … you get the picture.
I made a discovery thinking about this post. Did you know there is a Weed Science Society of America? Neither did I. One of my first thoughts when stumbling onto this site was, "I wonder if they offer grants for study. They could sure find some good weeds in our flower bed." Here is their mission statement,
The Weed Science Society of America promotes research, education, and
extension outreach activities related to weeds; provides science-based
information to the public and policy makers; and fosters awareness of
weeds and their impacts on managed and natural ecosystems.
I can tell you the impact of weeds on my ecosystem. The cure will be going back to work! Hours spent in the flower bed/gardens means lots of time to think. Not just, "Why in the world did I let it get soooooo bad?" No, life parallels gardening. Little wonder our "first parents" were gardners. Now leaving the debate over the first eleven chapters of Genesis aside for a moment, can anyone really refute the reality sin must have turned the Garden of Eden into, pardon this one, the Garden of Weedin. (Yes, I have been to craft shows with my wife and seen this a number of times thinking, "Oh, brother!" But, having lived for a few days in my own Garden of Weedin, the picture painted works for me. Could be the pain typing now.)
We brush aside habits and thoughts as though they come and go and we should not bother with them. The longer we abide these habits and thoughts the more prominent they become. What is lovely is overshadowed, much like the flowers in our garden, by the more than two foot weeds – no kiddin’. Dallas Willard regularly points out formation does not come without intention. When we determine to live into habits and thoughts that fail to keep constant with say, Philippians 4:8, we can be sure we have intentionally given to being formed by those habits we might equate with weeds. Only regular maintenance will keep the weeds out.
It is not just maintenance we need. We need renewed habits and thoughts. "Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus," Paul wrote. There is something about thinking the thoughts of God that help shape and form us into the "image of his Son." "Renewing the mind" is an important facet of walking with Jesus. If repentance carries with it any notion of the mind, and etymologically it does, then our thinking is at issue. How are we living in the Kingdom of God when our thoughts and habits run along the lines of our own kingdom and its desires. We need to "repent."
Weeding the garden not only casts out those thoughts and habits inhibiting healthy spiritual formation, it also makes room for practices particularly designed to reshape us into Kingdom of God living people.
Well. Enough. Two more flower beds beckon. Now where is my Advil?