Worthy Weeds

Sometimes, the worthiness of a weed is in the eye of the beholder. In the last few years, some farmers, alive to the extreme stress that many pollinating creatures are experience, have begun planting the margins of their fields with clover, ox-eye daisies, sorrel—even vetch on the verge! Queen Anne’s lace, which sounds fancy but is actually wild carrot. Taking up valuable farmland!  Sixty years ago, this would have been akin to heresy of the hippy-dippiest sort.

These “weeds” attract pollinators—which in turn, help the crop to grow, not just in one particular field, but all around. Maybe this is a modern adaptation to do as Jesus advised: let the weeds grow up among the wheat in Matthew 13:24-30,36-43.

As conditions in our environment get more extreme climatologically, weeds are experiencing a rehabilitation of sorts, which makes the parable of the wheat and the weeds in Matthew’s gospel shine with possibility. What if this isn’t a story about judgment and flames, but a story of redemption, of allowing time and grace to sort things out where we rush in to condemn?

I remember I was sitting in my car one morning, about ten years ago, reading. In between pages I would watch my daughter’s field hockey practice. The team played in a desiccated brown field full of crispy grass and weeds—even though every boys’ team played on crisply tended fields, the girls would be shunted a half mile away, not even on school property. The school still claimed Title IX equivalency. Each time I sat near this field watching these girls practice, I felt a sprout of annoyance break through the drought-fired clay of my heart, as I did on this particular morning.

The day before, a man had half-heartedly, like a somnambulist, mowed this so-called field, even though the grass had remained in a state of stasis due to the extremely dry conditions of that summer. This field seemed to be in suspended animation, but instead of Sleeping Beauty, it was Sleeping Ugly.

There were tiny oases of green visible here and there across the burnt-ochre and sienna expanse, but those were weeds. It’s always that way. When the *stuff* goes down, it’s the weeds that thrive. It often seems like that with people, too. I don’t know about you, but sometimes that just drives me crazy, especially if I have forgotten the weediness of my own nature, and put on airs that I might be more of a hothouse flower.

As I mused, desultorily, my eyes scanned the thatch patches that prickled, sea-urchin-like, over the ground– and saw one small shocking flash of color jump out from the landscape. There was a tiny yelp of purple hanging low among the clumps of fescue and thatch. A fluted flower– belonging, yes, to some weed.

What could be more unlikely than beauty in such sere surroundings? What could be more stubborn than this small flower determined to bloom just here regardless of its improbability? What else could remind me that even in the most drab and dingy places there is grace and beauty if only we open our eyes?

And suddenly the weed was transformed into a bit of grace, a call for second chances.

In other words, a miracle.

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