I spent the last week and a half in California on a whirlwind vacation with my husband, where we tried to pack in lots of different activities and destinations during our time there. One of my favorite stops was Yosemite, a place neither of us had visited before, mercifully still open despite threats of an impending government shutdown.
Talk about huge trees and waterfalls beyond my comprehension! If you have never been, go (and I say this to you no matter where you live in the world). Yosemite surpasses all of its hype. April means early spring there, and the waterfalls are competing to outdo one another with their flow of snow melt. The massive sequoias and grand boulders made me feel smaller than I’ve ever felt.
While at Yosemite, I found a quote from John Muir, conservationist and national parks champion, that I wanted to share with you:
We didn’t have storms while we there (and fortunately saw no bears either), but I definitely felt nature’s peace filling me as cares dropped off. Well … except for that nagging fear about seeing bears.
Before even getting home, though, those cares started building back up. While we were away, we heard reports of devastating tornadoes through our city and state. I knew from phone calls, texts and emails back home that our friends and family were safe and that our house had not been damaged, but I also knew to expect some cleaning up when we got back.
How blessed we were to have had no one close to us hurt and no damage at home. But I found myself despondent over the number of weeds that had sprung up in the garden and yard while we were away. Mid-Spring has definitely hit its stride where we live.
Oak trees or oak weeds?
Before we even left for our trip, I realized the acorns and subsequent oak “sprouts” were more of a problem this year than any previous year I remember. I started tackling the project even then but had no idea what lay in wait for me a week and a half later.
As I sat stooped over the raised garden in our front yard pulling oak sprout after oak sprout, I found myself thinking about my recent blog post about discipline and the little prince’s caution against letting the baobab trees take over.
We have little oaks growing up everywhere: all over the yard; in the garden, where they’re choking out plants I’ve actually planted there and would prefer to keep alive; and even right up against the house, where it simply would never do to have an oak tree spring up. If I’m not diligent about pulling them up, they could do as much damage as the baobab trees in The Little Prince.
However, if the stately oak that graces our front yard and towers over our house had fallen prey to the tornado and its storms, I would have likely picked one of the sprouts to keep and shelter and protect so that it could grow up in place of its predecessor. It would have become a treasure to me. But our oak is still standing, and so I see all the little sprouts as oak weeds, not future oak trees.
And all of that got me to thinking about other “weeds” in our lives that can choke out the good things God intends for us. Sometimes the weeds can seem like good things (just like the oak sprouts could be good if I owned a tree nursery or wanted to grow new oak trees in my yard), but if we allow them to take over, then we miss out on other blessings in our gardens and in our lives. They can even be good things at other times in our lives but be weeds at this point that we cannot leave alone or ignore or continue to let grow and take over.
As Lent comes to a close and we wrap up this season of penance to celebrate Easter and Christ’s victory over death for us, let’s take some time to think about the weeds we need to pull up so that our gardens will be what God wants for us. Maybe you’ll be called to make a decision to continue abstaining from whatever you gave up for Lent. Or maybe there’s something else choking out the life God wants you to be leading. Possibly, it could mean adding something to your day that’s missing now.
Whatever it is, I hope you’ll take some time to pray and listen and act. I plan to do my praying and listening out in the garden, where I’ve got plenty more weeds to pull.