View from the Pew
The weeds of life deserve some respect, too
The voice came from the next yard. "You got to get rid of this vine. It's bad stuff." It was my neighbor in his endless quest to rid our corner of the world of maile pilau, which climbs, clings and smothers whatever other plant it can get its tendrils on.
He's winning in his tidy lawn, but on my side of the wall, weeds are us. Bless him, he came over and liberated a patch of ti plants a while back. Now and then he jumps the wall to clip back the bad vine when I'm not home. It's not successful at stealth because, if you've ever encountered cut maile pilau, you know why its nickname is about what dogs drop in the yard. No cut, no stink, that's my philosophy.
He gets it that I'm not going to join the kill squad, but he is cheered when the yard guy cranks up his tools of mass destruction and evens out the height of my assorted weeds to create the appearance of a lawn. There's probably some real grass among them, but I don't know its name. Green is good enough for me.
My neighbor does chuckle at my line about wanting to create a wild bird habitat, unlike the dear lady on the other side who didn't think it was one bit funny. She was endlessly kind to me, though I was a thistle in her worldview, and I miss her.
I thought about weeds while at a coffee klatch with the girls recently. The barista has a haircut that hangs like a veil before the eyes. Some of us cringed, searched the cups for a floating hair and recalled the days when the coffee servers of yore wore hairnets. Suggestions were made about making suggestions to the manager about weeding him out. Not quite the crisp sharp blade we want to see.
Weeds came to mind again listening to an account of a high school graduation from grandparents who couldn't focus on the triumph of a diploma and the survival through a rough patch of adolescence. All they could see was the punky hair, tattoos and piercings that even the blanket of leis couldn't cover up. If we could just prune that seedling, it would resemble the family tree.
A person close to me has chronic pain from sharp barbs and pokes she encounters in her personal garden. Diminishing health and mental acuity, stress and sometimes selfishness can put thorns on once embraceable friends. Bless her, too, for knowing them to be rose bushes needing nurturing, not a briar patch to be avoided.
What is it about us that wants to sort everything out as us-and-them right down to the humblest sprouts in creation? What is this nonsense about wiping out dandelions?
Read about the founders or discoverers of the great religions and the great humanist writers whom adamant nonreligious people believe in. They didn't disparage nature's humblest efforts. Where did Moses and Muhammed and Jesus head to commune with God? Yep, deserts full of prickery stuff. Buddha left his rich, pampered life amid lush gardens and fountains to encounter and enlighten suffering humanity in the byways and highways. Well, what grows along those byways, huh?
Where have the missionaries and teachers and mendicants from Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Christian and many other beliefs always sought to plant their messages? Well, of course they don't ignore those well-watered and fertilized, nicely barbered and stylishly dressed flowers. I'm not saying put an end to the pristine lawn and cool green park.
I'm just saying, whether you subscribe to creationism or evolution, weeds have always been with us. They need to be understood and nurtured and even embraced - just mind the thorns. Some of my best friends are weeds. I embrace them as a matter of faith, and I urge you to, too.