Chapter to Chapter
Once upon a time, there was a gardener. He wasn’t a master gardener with a television program on HGTV, but he did his best. He was never awarded the Jupiter County “Yard of the Month Award.” He was never in contention. Perhaps he didn’t donate to acceptable campaign funds. Perhaps he didn’t hobnob with the right people. Perhaps his yard didn’t have the proper balance of feng shui that appeals to the most symmetrically minded of suburban yard judges. However, his yard had beauty: roses, azaleas, jasmine, honeysuckle, gardenias, and more. The grass was immaculately trimmed. The fence was clean and decorative. The running ivy ran where the gardener led it and went no farther. To the man, the yard was a part of his life. He cared for it, tended it, pruned it, watered it, and kept it perfect—in his eyes.
As in all gardens, weeds worked their way into the yard. Flower beds became a breeding ground for them to raise their ugly heads. The gloved gardener immediately found each tare and pulled it up roots and all. As others appeared at various places, he yanked and uprooted them and carefully disposed of them far from his precious acre of heaven on earth. Keeping out what he didn’t plant became as big a task as taking care of what he did plant. One day, after he had worked exceptionally hard, making sure everything had water and proper sun, raking and trimming the yard to perfection, even pulling up each weed that had leapt from the ground overnight, he heard a hardy “Hello.” There in his little yard was a group of smiling judges, people who had been told to come and see what this gardener had done with his sweat and blood. He hadn’t asked them. He didn’t need their approval. But here they were to witness this beauty that was garnering attention from everyone passing by. The man smiled the smile of those who don’t know whether they actually want to smile. They were here and wanted to see his garden. And he showed them.
He showed them wisteria and running roses, peach trees and crepe myrtles. He showed them lilies and petunias, Spanish moss and pansies, snapdragons and marigolds, begonias and daffodils. He walked the fences with them. He gave a tour of his tiny greenhouse. He showed them the water features and the fire pit. And then he saw the weed. It was one, but it was large. And by his attention to it, all the other eyes followed his and landed on it. It wasn’t there yesterday. In fact, he must have missed it today. But it was tall and spikey and ugly.
He wasted no time. He marched up to it and pulled. One hand wasn’t enough. It took two. He pulled until his back curved into a question mark. And then it let go, bringing up a dirt clod. One day. One day, and this unwelcomed guest had flourished and pulled itself up to great heights. It wasn’t aware of its ugliness or its status of being unwanted. It just grew, fast and large, pulling the water and nutrients from the nearby roses. The man gritted his teeth as he trudged heavy-footed to the refuge pile where he discarded the undesirable. Then he stared at the stalk and growled. The stalk was now dead and no longer wasting the bone meal. But it had been there, then. The group told him how lovely his yard was, how perfectly manicured, how eclectic. However, he wouldn’t stop staring at the uprooted, eradicated weed.
“It was in my rose garden,” he muttered. And they again reassured him that his yard was full of beauty and cleverness, that one weed just happened to come out of nowhere, one wild seed out of thousands of pieces of art. But he kept staring and mumbling, focusing on the weed that lay there, seeming to taunt him. Eventually, the guests left, commenting on elements they had missed earlier. And the man remained, embarrassed, angry, gritting his teeth.
I can relate. Life is tough at times, but when I have much to be thankful for, I often am distracted by that one weed that has popped up and grabbed by focus and attempted to steal my joy. When we rip it out, stop it from draining our energy, we have to learn to let it die. If not, it wins.