Saturday, July 12, 2008

The ministry of weeds

I’ve been hanging out early mornings this week in the churchyard pulling weeds. Others have been there, too, at other times --- pulling, pruning, planting. I prefer early.

St. John’s is a self-maintaining parish --- there are no janitors or groundskeepers. What gets done is done by the people who call it home. I like that. When we’re unhappy about the way something looks, the alternative to unhappiness is doing something about it. Complaining without doing doesn’t accomplish much since there’s no paid-by-the-hour scapegoat to remove the source of our unhappiness.

And the grounds at St. John’s --- margins of lawn next to the street and a lovely shaded courtyard formed by the “u” of the church --- chapel and offices, classrooms, parish hall and sanctuary --- are more gardened than landscaped. No genetically-engineered shrubs arising from pools of sterile gravel. Instead, banks of daylilies, a flourish of coneflowers, drifts of roses and ferns, lots of other plants --- and weeds.

The weeds are my favorites. I love the free-from-guilt pulling of them (no endangered plants here), the look of a weed-free flower bed, the brief self-created sense of order.

It’s all about the illusion that humanity can impose order. The ministry of weeds is the lesson that we can’t. They'll be back. So just relax, but keep pulling. And rest assured that ultimate order rests in other hands.

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