Adela is the first blogger to reach out and befriend me. She has called me her Best Blogging Friend ever since. She has such a way of making each of her readers feel like family. Her wonderful blog Once A Little Girl has the most beautiful memoir posts that I’ve read anywhere. Not only does she write about her memories, but she always manages to drive home a point. Please visit her beautiful blog, I promise you won’t be sorry…
I love flowers and flower gardens. I dream of the Chicago Tribune featuring my gardens in their annual Flower Garden of the Year editions. I’m a realistic daydreamer. I put aside thoughts of winning the grand prize, or even second place. I am content with dreaming of one or two resplendent pictures among the beautiful gardens pictured each year. My secret teen-dream was to be Homecoming Queen, Snow Queen, 4-H Queen, or something kinda of queen with a tiara or a silk sash, and maybe a scepter. Perhaps I transplant my teenage dreams to my gardening dreams; a place where I can create beauty.
Yesterday, my first grandchild, Bradaigh, helped me cultivate my creeping cedar, a beautiful evergreen that acts as a ground cover. It fills a teardrop shaped landscape island around two beautiful bur oaks, which my husband rescued from an over-zealous builder planning to backfill the whole area. Cultivating those low-lying cedars is a delight: no bugs; cedar is a natural insect repellant, soft needles that are no longer than a thumbnail. Their clean evergreen scent fills my nostrils. The only problem is that no matter how diligent I am, blades of grass poke up from the cedar sprigs, perseverant against my will. I follow each blade of grass down to its base and pull it out. It’s a time consuming, tedious job, but it’s the only way to make sure I get the grass out by the roots, and the only way to make sure I leave the cedar undisturbed.
“I can see why Jesus told that story about the weeds growing up among the wheat,” I say to my grandson. He grunts. He’s on the way to thirteen, so that’s his main way of communicating this year. Once in a while he’s up for a whole conversation. I take his grunt as encouragement.
“See how these blades of grass just grab hold and keep on coming back? Kind of reminds me of the devil; just looking for a place to grow under the surface. Nobody noticing. Then ka-boom! He rears to the surface, just like he belongs there.”
Bradaigh sighs and shakes his head. I see a shadow of a smile, so I continued shining a light on my thoughts.
“Sometimes, I get a piece of the cedar by mistake. Sometimes, I start thinking the grass is the young cedar and maybe I’m making a mistake.” We continued on in silence. That’s one of the things I appreciate about Bradaigh; he’s content with silence.
“Doesn’t that look good?” I say. “The cedar almost seems…”
“Happy.” Bradaigh says. “I knew you were going to say that, because you and I…” and he stops.
“You and I, what?”
“Oh, never mind.”
“You and I think alike?” I say to him and I can feel my face lighten, and I swear I can almost feel my eyes dilate.
“Yeah.” Bradaigh looks down and away, but I see the smile slide up one side of his face.
“Yeah.” I say back, and I give his shoulder a miniature punch which we both know substitutes for the hug I will give him full on, later when we’re not in the front yard.
All day, every day, I battle grass. I hate grass. Except for the few patches of ornamental grasses: zebra grass and some sort of deep green grass with bright blue flowers, which I love, but forget the name. Everywhere, I’m pulling grass. Today I wonder why so many people spend a fortune on ways to assure a weed-free, vibrant green, ever-growing lawn of horrid grass. I think the story of my struggle with the cedar and the grass could go along side the one that’s already in the Bible.
Grass is like my persistent struggle against pride. For one thing, I’m fooling myself that I can outwit grass. It will always be there, waiting to peak out from between the branches, just like it belongs there. Sometimes, I can be fooled into thinking it’s a character trait, something I was blessed with, a healthy self-esteem, and confidence, something worth cultivating. Grass invades the most delicate and the most hardy of my flowers. It gets in everywhere, just as pride can invade everything that blooms in me, choking out or covering up what is beautiful. Maybe that’s the way it is for people who are plagued by other deadly sins like greed, avarice, sloth, gluttony. We all need to eat, protect ourselves, rest and eat. Perhaps the deadly sins are deemed so because they can take over our lives. Just like my garden, we are in danger of slipping from multi-colored flowers filling the world with perfume and beauty to nothing but a one-dimensional bed of grass. We need an ever-vigilant gardener, who helps us recognize our sins, which can seem so harmless, as if they are a natural part of us, just waiting to take over. Perhaps that’s why some are considered deadly sins. Still, through grace and forgiveness, I am unburdened. I experience life free of self-interest. I am like my weed-free cedar, I feel energized. Fresh. Clear of clutter. And I am happy.