Winter weeding is nice in a way. All the deciduous bushes have lost their foliage, so it was easy to get in under them and dig out sneaky weeds that thrived in hiding during the summer. The damp soil made it easy to pull up alien root systems, and the worn-out monkey grass seemed relieved to lose some of its summer excess.
As I worked, it occurred to me that maybe I could use a good weeding as well! Sometimes I just need to stop, get out of the fray of life for a while and let God tend to the garden. It's easy to let weeds crop up: weeds of selfishness, stubborness, anxiety, self-righteousness, anger... weeds of bitterness and impatience. I develop overgrown foliage of "busyness" and exhaustion which grows unchecked without regular maintenance.
It's really not fun to be weeded (I'm sure my monkey grass would agree!) But weeding is just a fact of life in a garden. All beautiful gardens require maintenance- even indoor house plants. And the more beautiful they are, the more maintenance they receive. The beautiful gardens at places like Disney have round-the-clock care. But wow, I'm not sure I want quite that much pruning- sometimes I'm perfectly content to just "look nice from a distance"! It doesn't seem fair... it would seem like the more fruitful you are and the better you bloom, the less anyone would bother you with shears or weeding forks. Instead, the opposite is true... the most lovely gardens are the result of conscientious gardeners who are passionate about their plants. They give them constant attention and help their plants thrive. God is definitely a conscientious gardener!
And weeding in January... sometimes you just need a break. Ministers and teachers take sabbaticals, understanding that in order to keep producing fruit, you need "down" time to reconnect and let God take care of your weeds. But I feel guilty whenever I'm in a season where I'm feeling less productive- surely something must be wrong with me or my ministry! It would be a relief to finally view these times as a necessary part of my "growth cycle"- weeding and all.
My preacher teases me sometimes about "Sandy-isms". I'm sure he would consider this entire blog entry to be another "Sandy-ism"... Do you think God would be ok with me portraying him as a gardener pulling weeds and pruning bushes? Well, this time I think I've got scripture solidly on my side: Jesus describes God exactly that way in John 15:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."
Neat, huh? I'm glad I waited to weed in winter. And I might as well let God get going with his weeding... he's got a lot of work to do!