As I yanked on the unwanted foliage my mind traveled back to the scriptures and homily I listened to during Mass last Sunday. Our gospel reading was the parable Jesus taught about separating the weeds from the wheat. The challenge given during the homily was to concentrate on weeding our own garden and let the faults of others up to Jesus. It seemed fitting to me to revisit a time in my own life when I did some major housekeeping in my faith life.
Six years ago I entered the unfamiliar world of mental illness, Down's Syndrome and cancer simultaneously. I had no knowledge of any of them. I watched 3 of my four children endure the most difficult time in their lives. I wept often as I learned to cope with the heartache I encountered along the way. I was scared, and unsure of myself, but turned toward my faith as my safety net.
Saturday, as I spruced up my yard, the lesson began to hit home. Obnoxious weeds yielded easily to my zealous hands. The reason?, the moisture that fell the night before softened the dry soil and I was able to remove the unwanted residents that were spoiling the beauty of my flowers. The tears that fell worked much the same way in my own soul. The precipitation of my anguish softened the grime as I dug deep into my being to find the strength to bear the heavy load. Along the way, I let go of preconceived ideas about mental illness. I had begun to do my own weeding. As I educated myself and exchanged old thoughts for new knowledge, parts of me were tossed aside.. Much like my weeding in my garden. As more flowers peeked out, it was less work to see the beauty.
I continued with a new found resolve. Pull, pitch, and move to the next area. Soon a green moat encircled my home. As the purging continued, an unexpected pattern emerged. New plants, hidden from view, began to appear. Volunteer seedlings dotted the almost barren soil against the backdrop of mature parent plants. And then it dawned on me. My spiritual life resembled my flower garden.
Mourning the loss of our beloved grandchild, the pain and sorrow endured as I watched a child of mine fight against a brain disorder, the utter exhaustion as I cared for my grandchildren as my daughter-in-law battled cancer allowed the change needed in me to grow in my faith. As I cleared the landscape of my heart from the undesirable traits that had taken root, new gifts began to surface. Unexpected fruits to share with others were given the opportunity to multiply. I found myself reaching out to others in ways I had never imagined.
Looking for beauty with our grandchildren.