Thursday, September 1, 2011


Weeds?  Or misunderstood vegetation?
(This and subsequent images are Hawaiian Odysseus photos.)

As some theologians might reason, weeds are the result of original sin.  The premise of their argument would be that ugly things weren't part of God's masterful design.

I'm not so sure.

Every now and then, I am compelled for the sake of good health to get up from my desk where I have been wrestling with the labor pains of writing and go for a leisurely stroll.  On this particular midsummer's day, with the temperature already in the 90's at 10:00 AM, I walked towards the Walmart Supercenter and Meadowbrook Plaza located in the southern portion of College Place.  

Located three miles west of Walla Walla in southeastern Washington state, College Place is a small bedroom community comprised mainly of retired seniors and students, faculty, administration, and support services personnel of Walla Walla University.  A good portion of the residents of this low-key, easy living community are Seventh-Day Adventists.  The rest of the town are Three Hundred Sixty-Five Days Good Ole' Boys and Gals.

As I ambled along, I imagined myself to be a contemporary Henry David Thoreau in need of a respite from urban trappings, politics, and a harried lifestyle.  As much as I was somewhat in awe of how much development had occurred in this particular area of town--once nothing but overgrown grassland and pasture--I found myself, oddly enough, paying closer attention to the dense shrubbery along the sidewalk.

I walk my mind like other people walk their dogs.

Ever notice how dogs are actually walking their owners and not the other way around?  It's like that when I go walking my mind.  

My mind will choose where it wants to go.  My body is just along for the, walk.  

Weary from the severe energy expenditure of writing (and don't kid yourselves, it does take a lot of energy--at least, it does for me--to harness my severely attention-deficited mind), I put my body on automatic pilot and let my mind lead me.  Helium-filled with the exhilaration of going outside and wandering aimlessly, my mind (again, picture a little yapping chihuahua or a great big St. Bernard, whatever tickles your fancy, but make sure you add to your fantasy the fact that the dog just ingested some hamburger laced with meth) frivolously and feverishly frolics (sorry, just needed to get my daily supplement of alliteration) through the residential neighborhood en route to the aforementioned Walmart area.


Where was I?  Oh, yes...

So on this one particular day, my mind/dog wasn't so much focused on getting to Walmart and vicinity as much as it wanted to explore the overgrown weeds along the major sidewalks in the general area.  Every now and then, my mind/dog would figuratively mark a spot.  If memory serves me right, it even relieved itself on a clump of dandelions.  I regretted having forgotten my plastic waste bag at home.  Looking up and down the street and acting nonchalant as a couple of cars slowly passed by, I finally came to the conclusion that, at the very least, my mind/dog had done its thing in the bushes.  Everything's good; we're still doing our environmentally GREEN civic duty here.

Okay, time to get serious again.

At the intersection of Larch Avenue and Lamperti Street
College Place, WA


And so I found myself at the intersection of Larch and Lamperti.  As alluded to earlier, it was a beautiful day, the sun reveling in a cloudless azure bath, and all clouds hibernating until autumn's arrival.  

An occasional butterfly would flutter in and out among the bushes, not unlike a contemporary passenger airline pilot whose autopilot had just turned off, leaving our protagonist scrambling to try to remember what it was like to actually fly a plane manually.

I paused to watch a bee circumnavigate a flower quickly drying in the August heat. 

It was then that I paid closer attention to the overgrowth of weeds.


Wait a second.  It was actually a natural growth...

I challenged myself to change my mindset.  Events in my own life had led me a long time ago to a place where I deeply resented how we easily tend to label other human beings.  To an even greater degree, perhaps, we are at fault for doing the same with other living things, fauna and flora alike.

The ancestral roots of these weeds were here a long time before the first human being ever set foot in this area.  

We are the newcomers.  We tore up the land, planted our crops--vegetation that was probably foreign to this terrain--built our homes, and developed our towns.  The weeds were pushed to the wayside.

It's all a matter of perspective, isn't it?

Today, the Departments of Agriculture in all fifty states label unwanted plants in any given acreage as noxious weeds.  

Was that God's plan?  And are we modern day armchair theologists blaming the devil for creating weeds?

When Adam and Eve fell from grace, God allowed the weeds and thorns to be a consequence.  Man would have to live by the sweat of his brow, toiling laboriously to cultivate the land.  

God never called the weeds noxious or evil.  God doesn't create ugly.

God doesn't make mistakes.

With all these thoughts germinating within me, I began to take on a different perspective.

These weeds are actually quite beautiful, I thought.

I looked to the southwest at the picturesque splendor of the Blue Mountains.  There's a good chance these same weeds, or at least close cousins, adorn the foothills, gently rising slopes, and summits of that wonderful mountain range that we take for granted.  No one calls them noxious or nuisances up there.

Like pixels in a lovely photograph, each weed has its rightful place and meaning and value no matter where it's at.

How often do we treat our fellow men and women--especially those on the fringe of society--as undesirable, untouchable, and thus lowly.  Do we assess them in the same category as weeds?

If so, here's a challenge to all of us to remedy our low-minded ways.  We need to take inventory of and eradicate our own darkness in order that we might have a more godly perspective.

Simply put, we need to weed our own gardens.

And, if so, what to do with the weeds?  Well, we go green.  We recycle the weeds as compost.

God isn't involved with condemnation.  

God is into the business of redemption.

God has a purpose for everyone and everything.  

Even weeds.

Homeward bound, southwest on Lamperti,
a little bit wiser and more appreciative

No comments:

Post a Comment