A Sinner's Guide to Weeds

2
My husband and I have lived on our gentleman’s farm in Maine for two decades. My roots were in a Boston suburb; thus I had much to learn about country living. Our floppy-eared Nubian goats knew I was a city girl and often took advantage of that fact by misbehaving, nipping at our flower garden as I endeavored to bring them to pasture. Chickens fluttered at my feet as I hung laundry out to dry. I spent many hours in the garden armed for war. I wore netting over my head to combat mosquitoes and black flies. I pulled socks over light-colored pants for tick control. I sprayed my skin with oily insect repellent. Inept at planting, I became the-one-who-weeds. A blazing sun beat down on me, sweat poured off my brow, and my knees hurt from crawling around on rocky soil. In the midst of this penitential rite, I often thought about weeds as God’s way of teaching us about sin.

Take the bindweed. I came to call it the evil bindweed, not knowing that it also was known as “Devil’s Gut.” Lilac trees thrive in Maine and ours were no different. One day I noticed a mysterious vine creeping up our lilac, twining around the branches. This was not a gentle clasp on the bark. I had to pull hard to extricate it. This bindweed was determined to strangle the tree, scarring it for life. Oh, how easily it can fool the unsuspecting gardener, such beautiful flowers it has. Shaped like bells, they are candy-striped and fragrant. It was a formidable opponent. One flower can produce 600 seeds in one season. An underground root system extends thirty square feet. I was ignorant of all this and thought I could beat the evil bindweed.

I pulled and hacked, but the weed came back. I became frustrated and whacked even harder. The weeds came back, stronger than ever, for it had a secret weapon. Foolish gardeners cut the roots and that promotes new shoots. Chop it into one hundred pieces and it will multiply like rabbits. I noticed this same characteristic in my sinful nature. I tried to stop judging and I judged all the more. I tried to forgive and held onto the grudge.

Like an expert gardener understands weeds, St. Francis de Sales knew human nature. He saw people fret over their sin. Disgruntled sinners wandered in and out of confession encompassed by dark clouds. Angry people became angry at being angry. Sad people became sad at being sad. Irascible people became irritated by being irritated. What is a sinner to do? St. Francis had sound advice. Hate your faults. Confess them, but be tranquil, not discouraged.

“Unless you do this, your imperfections will disturb you even more and thus grow stronger, for nothing is more favorable to the growth of these weeds than our anxiety and over eagerness to get rid of them.”

Evil bindweed does not thrive in all places. Never will you see those pink flowers sprouting in peaceful meadows. I will give up my ways as a frustrated gardener, hell-bent on ridding my garden of weeds. I will be at peace, tilling my inner garden, content to grow holy in God’s good time.

After going to confession, do you feel at peace?


Copyright 2018 Kathryn Swegart

Share.

About Author

Kathryn Griffin Swegart was born in Boston and holds a Master’s degree from Boston College. Married since 1981, she and her husband have raised three children on a gentleman’s farm in rural Maine. Amidst dairy goats, chickens, and gardens, they homeschooled for twenty years. They enjoy tending their apple orchard, volunteering at church, and visiting their nine grandchildren. Kathryn is a professed member of the Secular Franciscan Order and the author of Heavenly Hosts: Eucharistic Miracles for Kids. Visit her blog at KathrynSwegart.com.

2 Comments

  1. Prov31wannabe on

    I am the-one-who-weeds in my family, too! Husband and sons prepare the soil, plant, hoe. I am just not accurate with the hoe! I weed by hand, also harvest and bring the produce in and process it, either for the table or the freezer or the fruit cellar. Actually Husband and Sons, being taller and stronger, are now better at the processing than I am. Their heads are higher above the steam than mine is!
    I wish it were as easy to pull the sins out of our lives as it is to pull the weeds out of the garden! Just like the weeds, the same sins seem to keep appearing and reappearing. I don’t succeed in pulling the sin out by its root. Sometimes my good works produce results despite the weeds, in addition to the weeds, or sometimes even because of the weeds.

  2. Weeds drain away energy from the plants, taking from them nutrients and water. Sin, too, drains spiritual energy from us. If we become aware of this and water our souls with sacramental grace, we become stronger by overcoming these obstacles to holiness.I agree with you-we can become stronger because of the weeds.

    Thank you for sharing.

Leave A Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.