Posted by: mmreflections | January 20, 2010

Benefits of Good Gardening: January, 2010

The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field.  While asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds in the field.  When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.  When asked about pulling up the weeds the master replied, “No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.  Let them grow together until the harvest…”  (Confer Matthew 13:24-31)

Yesterday I had a routine six month appointment with the dermatologist.  I thought I was being very careful about avoiding sun exposure after my last appointment since  I had already undergone plastic surgery on the side of my face for the removal of a skin cancer.  To my surprise the doctor found a series of new pre-cancer cells which he was able to remove in his office.  I jokingly referred to him as my new gardener since he was now clearing up any unwanted growths on a regular basis.  I commented on the fact that I was now being more careful than ever about protecting my skin from the sun.  He gently informed me that the damage had been done many years ago.  My days of sleeping in the sun had come back to haunt me; it was pay-back time.  I would need to continue coming back on a regular basis to have him clear out any new weeds in my garden.

Learning the lessons from the damage overexposure to the sun caused my body and the resulting weeds that would continue to plague me for the rest of my life prompted me to reflect on the weeds that continue to plague my soul.  Overexposure to negative influences, mistakes, failures, sins, prejudices, hurts or wounds, and unhealthy relationships years ago have made their mark upon my soul.  There were many visits to my spiritual doctors over the years who helped me to clean up my act by means of repentance and forgiveness.  However, the affects of all that negative exposure when I was sleeping (not paying attention) have made a mark on my spiritual life for even now in my golden years they come back to haunt or tempt me in the form of sadness, regrets, questions, doubts or negative thinking.  I need to be constantly aware of these spiritual weeds which will probably continue to claim their place in the garden of my soul.  I understand more clearly at this juncture of my life’s journey how the consequences of all our experiences have marked our spiritual lives.  For all of us forgiveness may be ours but the consequences of all our actions remain.  Everything plays a role in our spiritual gardens.

This knowledge should not lead us to despair or discouragement  for, if treated with awareness, it could fill us with a great deal of joy in knowing that all things that have happened are a part of the journey.  All the events of a life time have brought us to where we are and have contributed to who we are today.  When we look too closely at our spiritual gardens we may see many aspects that are not very attractive.  We may want to spend too much time pulling up the weeds.   But when we step back and look at the overall picture, we see that everything belongs. the good, bad and the indifferent.  I wonder if this is the reason Jesus, when telling the story of the wheat and the weeds, tells us not to get too excited about the weeds for at the proper time the wheat and the weeds will be separated.  It is important, however, for us to pay attention to how the weeds, sown throughout our lifetimes, continue to pop up unexpectedly along the way.  Prejudices, resentments, rudeness, unkind words, judgments, fears, anger, guilt, negative thoughts, doubts, addictions, jealousy, greed, envy, pride, arrogance are some of the many weeds that manifest themselves in our lives today.  They suddenly rise up in an instant leaving us quite surprised at ourselves and our behavior or words at any given moment. 

Just recently while in a conversation with friends someone made a remark that touched on a sensitive issue for me.  In an instant I, without thinking, responded with annoyance revealing a prejudice I thought I had gotten over a long time ago.  Later I became angry with myself for having reacted so quickly and rudely, possibly hurting my friends.  I found myself questioning the reason for  my behavior.   Only later when sitting quietly and reflecting on the incident did I realize this was one of the weeds popping up once again.  Remembering what my dermatologist had to say when I told him how careful I was being with regard to overexposure to the sun and how surprised I was to find more pre-cancer cells popping up, I learned these were the results of damage done many, many years ago.  So, too, I am learning that much of my behavior today and the spiritual weeds that arise are the result of overexposure to negative and damaging influences over a lifetime.  How many of us have questioned ourselves about our thoughtless words and actions, perhaps even beating up on ourselves later?

Part of the problem when dealing with spiritual weeds is our difficulty in distinguishing the good and the bad.  From the parable of the weeds quoted at the beginning of this reflection we learn an important lesson.  In Palestine at the time of Jesus it was not unusual for an enemy to come and plant weeds in the wheat field of a neighbor when the master was asleep.  The workers were eager to pull out the weeds once they began to appear.  However, the weeds and the wheat in their earliest stages look so much alike that it would be impossible to properly distinguish one from the other.  So the master tells them to let them grow until harvest time when the difference would be obvious.  On our spiritual journeys we often think, say or do things that seem right and proper.  Having been influenced by our parents, teachers, friends and events around us, we may believe that all we do is justifiable.  Most of these influences have marked us while we were asleep so to speak.  We were not paying attention to the  fruits of our actions.  Yet, it is by our fruits that we shall be known.  As we achieve greater spiritual maturity we become more sensitive and aware of our behaviors.  With this awareness, the weeds sown while we were asleep begin to lose their influence on our daily lives.  Harvest time has arrived.

Perhaps this is the reason we are not to pass judgments on other people or on ourselves.  Only God knows all the influences that have affected our lives and the lives of others.  Only the Lord can truly distinguish and remove the weeds that are truly harmful to ourselves and others.  Just as we are not competent to be our own dermatologists in removing unhealthy cancer cells, neither are we competent in removing spiritual cancer cells from our own spiritual gardens or the gardens of our brothers and sisters.

 “At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.”

(Matthew 9:36)



  1. This is great! Wonderful web page you have here….. thank you for sharing it with so many grateful recepients. God love ya for all you do!
    Charlie and Patti

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