My life is a garden, and it needs weeding.

Winter is waning. As I was waiting for my two Boxers to sniff every blade of grass in the back yard the other day, I took one look at my garden and started reviewing the offspring of all of my friends in hopes that one was the mother of a child with a penchant for pulling weeds and a desire to make bank. I am willing to pay big for this. I hate weeding. I do mean hate, though abhor and detest are appropriate too. At any rate, the beautiful new fire pit we are having built will be here soon. My annual late winter dream of sipping wine on a cool evening by said fire pit is propelling me to do what must be done—weed the garden.

Once again, I find myself staring at the 110 feet long, 10 feet deep garden that I insisted we build wondering what I was thinking.  It is full of weeds, and not the kind I can delude myself into thinking are just flowers that grow in inconvenient places. No, these are the kind of weeds that the rabbits, who think my garden is their organic grocery, leave behind in their scat. On top of that, there are decaying remnants of fall blooming flower stalks that I neglected to clear out before the first snow.

To motivate me, unsuccessfully if I am honest, I close my eyes and imagine the deep purple irises flopping open. The buttery bells of calla lilies shooting upward on thick stalks. Daffodils, tulips, lilies, gladiolas, canna lilies, mums. When my garden is in full bloom, it is glorious. Right now, it’s a hot mess.

In a way, my garden reminds me of my life. My life is not a hot mess right now. There have been times, though, when I have looked out at the garden of my life, and I can see how I have let the weeds get out of control. More often my garden is in full bloom. However, I don’t always take the time to enjoy that. I get bogged down in all the things I have to do to prepare for the future. I forget that the purpose of all my work is to enjoy my life, my garden, in full bloom.

Beauty takes work. I don’t mean that in the superficial sense. The real beauty in our lives are the relationships we have with others. The events we share with them—births, birthdays, holidays certainly. It is also the tiny moments of true connection. The compassion and love we accept and give. All that takes work. Like a garden we have to cultivate it. That means planting the seeds, watering and nurturing them, and protecting them from the elements. If you do not take care of them, they will die, just like our relationships. If you do not water the seed of your relationships, those relationships will wither and rot. And that means consistently. You can’t water them only when you have time or when it is convenient.

Gardens, like life, have seasons. When we built the garden, I purchased hundreds of bulbs. Some were early spring flowering and others late. I wanted to have lovely blossoms as long as possible. Of course, I forgot what I planted and where as soon as they were in the ground. Oddly, I did not create a spreadsheet. When the first spring came, I waited impatiently for each variety. None lasted long enough. I wanted the entire garden to be in bloom all at once and for the whole spring and summer. That’s not how it works. Plants sprout and bud in their own time. They grow and they die back. Over the winter, they rest. Good things come into our lives, never all at once. The seasons of our lives bring us times of growth and loss and rest.

Plants don’t grow in places where they do not get what they need. I really want a row of tall sunflowers to line my fence. I have tried. I’ve planted seeds, sprouts, and flowers to no avail. As I write this, I realize that I am planting them where I want them to grow, rather than where they would get what they need to grow tall and vibrant. Some plants need full sun and others need full shade. That we want them to grow and flower is irrelevant if they do not get what they need. Scorching sunlight is great for a cactus. Trillium will shrivel up and die. We need to think about how we nurture our own growth and the growth of others. Do our actions cause others to bloom or desiccate?

Weeds crowd out the plants you want to grow. Weeds aren’t just unsightly.  They choke the flowers you want to grow, and they compete for the resources your plants need from the soil. That is so true in life. We let things into our garden and, if we ignore them, they take root. Negativity and toxic people distract us from our goals and corrupt our attitudes. If we don’t weed those out, they drain our energy so that we are not able to focus on who and what is really important. Weeds can find their way into our relationships as well. It takes energy to grow healthy relationships. It’s easy to let complacency, doubt, or irritation take root.  You have to pluck those right out of the soil. If you let them go too long, the roots are deep and, no matter what tool you use, there is always a remnant waiting to break through to the surface.

Don’t forget to smell the roses. Last year, something came up that took me away from home a lot. I completely missed the Asiatic Lilies. That sounds so trivial. But they’re beautiful and I planted them so that I could admire their beauty. Gardening is a lot of work. Preparing the soil, planting, weeding. You have to do all of those things. But do not forget that you did all that work so that you would have a beautiful garden to enjoy. Do not miss that. I built this garden because I wanted a place to relax. A place to have coffee with my family and friends. Do the hard work of life but don’t miss your life doing the hard work. When your garden is blooming, pull up a chair and enjoy it.

It’s time to weed my garden. Every chance I get, I am going to enjoy the blossoms of that labor.

 What are the weeds in your life’s garden?

 Copyright Catherine Matthews 2022.

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