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Gardening Is Good for the Soul, Right?

Pulling weeds from my flower beds taught me an important spiritual lesson.
By Jennifer Dyer


Contrary to what the title suggests, I am no gardener, which would explain why my flower beds are overgrown with grass. As a mom, I have difficulty finding time or motivation to clean out flower beds because it seems like an exercise in futility. As soon as I finish the 300-and-some-odd linear feet of flower beds—the previous owner of our house was a gardener—it is time to start all over again.

As much as I dislike getting my hands deep in the soil, I have developed a strange maternal attachment to my tulips. So, when I heard one early spring day that it would freeze that night, I went to the garden center to find a way to protect my little budding babies. The man at the center was nice enough to load several large bags of mulch into my car, and I drove away, ready for battle. I should have paid more attention to the way my shocks groaned when he tossed those bags into my trunk. When I got home, I popped my trunk and traipsed around the car, armed with gardening gloves. Five minutes later I was still struggling to heft out the first huge bag while my Labrador watched me from her perch under a nearby tree.

I finally maneuvered the bags into the yard and dragged them to the beds. I'd planned to dump out the bags and go on my merry way. Sadly, the beds were overgrown with grass. I stared around and wondered what to do next. Did I mention I grew up with a rock lawn? I decided to pull the grass out. I grasped a thick chunk and pulled. And pulled ... Then I fell over on my backside. Ignoring the dog's mommy's-gone-crazy look, I marched to the shed and came back with a shovel so I could dig the grass up. I plunged the shovel into the grass and the roots shoved back. I jumped on the shovel and fell over.

Grass, two. Shovel, zero. I braced myself on a big rock and attacked with the shovel from above, bringing all my weight down. I triumphed when I heard a crack ... until I realized it was the shovel, not the grass.

I heaved and jumped and pushed and shoved. I even brought out the large hedge trimmer and cut the grass's roots. After thirty minutes, I yanked up an entire square foot of grass and brandished it for the dog to see. Then I looked around. One foot down, 30 more to go ... at least. My fingers were frozen, my muscles sore, my spirit down. I dragged my tools back to the garage and limped inside for some Bible reading and enchiladas. 

So what does my venture in gardening have to do with my soul? The grass and its resilient roots gave new meaning to the term "letting sin take root." I realized that the roots in that grass were there from neglect. Each twisted root of the grass is like a sin that I let go unchecked. Every stray thought, deed, or word can twist around my heart and choke out God's light. Even with my hectic mommy schedule, I must make time for God daily so that my soul doesn't become like my flower beds.

 

Copyright © 2009 by Jennifer Dyer. Used with permission.



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