Weeding can be tedious, but it is a good exercise not just for your body but for your soul!
After many excuses to avoid cleaning up my backyard, I had to face the truth that it needed clearing badly. I was fortunate that my hubby was in a good mood to help, so together, we spent one day of our Christmas break uprooting the unwanted invaders.
Little did I know, there was a divine purpose to the exercise. As I started to break the hard yakka’s further growth with my left-over strength from the holiday gatherings, it filled me with so much joy, although it was not very fun at the start.
As I diligently hand-pulled and hoed the weeds, the workout led me to reflect on my spiritual health. How healthy have I been spiritually?
I experienced a life-changing encounter with Jesus, had my Baptism in the Spirit in 2000, and I have had many humbling privileges and opportunities to become a better person, through the leading of the Holy Spirit. There were many “ouch” moments of growth that challenged me to work harder, not so much in trying to perfect myself (for there is no such thing as perfection here on earth), but yes, getting closer in holiness in my walk with God was possible every day, as long as I tried. But have I really worked hard towards this goal? The pandemic had detracted me from my focus, as I got immersed instead in fear, anxiety, uncertainty, grief, and bereavement for friends and community who lost loved ones, jobs, property, and peace.
During my garden spruce up, I was confronted by weeds of various kinds. A weed is “a plant that causes economic losses or ecological damages, creates health problems for humans or animals, or is undesirable where it is growing.”
There was the Field Bindweed, a hardy perennial vine that has been given many names. Google says that, unfortunately, tilling and cultivation seem to aid Bindweed spread. The best control is early intervention. Seedlings must be removed before they become perennial. After that, buds are formed, and successful control gets more difficult.
Lord, what is in me that is like the Bindweed? Pride, lust, lies, offense, arrogance, or prejudice?
Then, there is the Quackgrass—a creeping and persistent perennial grass that reproduces by seeds. Its long, jointed, straw-colored rhizomes form a heavy mat in the soil, from which new shoots may also appear. We are advised to dig out this fast-growing grass as soon as we see it in our gardens, being sure to dig up the entirety of the plant (including the roots) and to dispose of it in our waste bin rather than the compost pile, as it will likely continue to grow in the latter!
Lord, what is my Quackgrass? Gossip, envy, malice, jealousy, materialism, or laziness?
This next weed I truly dislike. Canada thistle is an aggressive and creeping perennial weed from Eurasia. It infests crops, pastures, ditch banks, and the roadside. If it becomes rooted, experts say that the best control is to stress the plant and force it to use stored root nutrients. Yet, believe it or not, this weed is edible!
Lord, what is my Canada thistle? Which are the sins that I can turn to fruitful outputs? Stress, worry, anxiety, control, over-confidence, or self-sufficiency?
Nutsedges are perennial weeds that superficially resemble grasses, but they are thicker, stiffer, and V-shaped. The presence of Nutsedge often indicates that the soil drainage is poor or waterlogged. However, once established, it’s very difficult to control.
Lord, what is my Nutsedge, the habits that should warn me that it is time to prepare myself better? Lack of prayer, laziness to study Your Word, lukewarmness in sharing the Good News, lack of compassion and empathy, impatience, irritability, or lack of gratitude?
Then, there is the low-growing Buckhorn Plantain. With a long taproot, it can become drought-tolerant and is difficult to remove by hand. To remove this weed, pull up young plants and destroy them before the plants put out seeds. As a last resort, several herbicides are effective.
Lord, what is my Buckhorn Plantain, the ones that take root and refuse to leave the longer it stays? Addictive behaviors, selfishness, gluttony, vanity, getting into debt, or depressive and oppressive tendencies?
Ah, and this one—don’t we learn to love them!—Dandelions with their bright yellow heads in the springtime. They provide an important source of food for bees early in the year. But in time, they will also take over your garden. They have the weediest characteristics. Removing dandelions by hand-pulling or hoeing is often futile unless done repeatedly over a long period of time, because of their deep tap root system.
Lord, what is my Dandelion, the intertwining roots that bring up newer problems? Narcissism, over-spending time on social media, games, and videos, negative thinking, too many excuses, blame games, procrastinating, or people-pleasing?
In fact, “weeds” aren’t inherently bad. Many weeds stabilize the soil and add organic matter. Some are edible and provide habitat and food for wildlife. This has given me much hope indeed—that I can use and turn my weaknesses, bad habits, ingrained sinfulness, and limitations to good use by asking the Lord for help and healing, becoming fully dependent on Him to prune me and use me for His purpose. I know that change is hard, and some essential changes can only be made with God’s help.
If we sincerely seek God and ask the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the promised helper, God knows the struggles we face and encourages us to go to Him for the extra help we need (Matthew 7:7-8; Hebrews 4:15-16; 1 Peter 5:6-7). God doesn’t do all the work for us, but He does offer help to make us more effective.
Every day is an opportunity to start this process of regeneration, rejuvenation, and renewal. Let’s take it as both a challenge and rewarding time.
To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Dina Mananquil Delfino works at an Aged Care Residence in Berwick. She is also a Counsellor, Pre-marriage facilitator, event organizer, community and church volunteer, and a regular columnist for the Philippine Times newspaper magazine. She resides with her husband in Pakenham, Victoria.
I was driving home when I noticed two street signs that seemed incongruous. The train station and shop signs were pointing in the wrong directions; the exact opposite ones, to be precise. If I were a tourist, a traveler who is not familiar with the suburb, I would have followed the sign and got lost. I guess somebody had moved the street signs as a prank or even as an intentional deception. In our walk with the Lord too, we need to know who is navigating us—God, ourselves, others, or the evil one. If we are not aware of our surroundings, we can easily get lost or misled. This Lent, whose voice will we listen to? Judas…the crowd…Pilate…or Jesus…?
To be good at anything, we have to put time, effort, and practice into it. The same applies to our preparation for eternity. How well are we going to do at the end of year exams if we have put little or no time towards studying during the year? Similarly, how well will we stand up on judgment day when we are held accountable for our lives? In our preparation period on earth for eternity, how much of our life was spent in prayer, good works, and sacrifice? Our Lord paid the ultimate price for our salvation, but we have to play our part. As He has graciously allowed us to be part of that sacrifice, let us not waste this valuable opportunity. He, through Calvary, has given us a chance to be part of His redemption, to be part of His sanctity, consequently allowing mere humans to be called into sainthood. What a privilege! As my mother would always remind us, children, this life of ours on earth, short or long, is but a preparation period, the springboard to eternity. How we fare in the structure of eternal life will be determined not only by Jesus’ death and resurrection, but by every thought, word, and deed we perpetrated during the time we spent on earth.
If your sacrifices are dragging you down and causing you to dread Lent—take heart. Our Lady at Fatima gave the children a prayer which offers compelling reasons to sacrifice. Her words may help dispel your Lenten dreads. The prayer begins: “O Jesus, it (this sacrifice I am making) is for love of You.” Why not borrow those words and make them your own? Telling Jesus you are doing this hard Lenten thing for love of Him may remind you why you are denying yourself in the first place: you are making room in your heart, so that you may love Him more. Further, the prayer helped the children offer their sacrifices for “the conversion of sinners.” You can do the same. When you make a Lenten sacrifice, offer it for a specific loved one who is living far from God. “O Jesus, this is for love of You, for the conversion of......” Praying in Our Lady’s words will not lessen the difficulty of your sacrifices; but, because it sweetens them with love for Jesus and for lost souls, her words may truly help to dispel your Lenten dreads.
I am not one of those holy souls who look forward to Lent. However, I do have a few friends and family members who do. So, I try to take note of why that is the case. Just last week, my mom mentioned she was looking forward to Lent so she could invite her band, who are all senior citizens, to her parish fish fry. She said she’s really looking forward to it, since most of them aren’t Catholic but have mentioned that they like attending fish fries. After enjoying their traditional fish and chips, my mom is planning on reserving a room in the parish hall so the band can make music together after dinner. They call themselves the Silver Foxes and often visit nursing homes together to spread a little joy. My mom is a joyful evangelist, even at age 80! And she has unlocked the secret that Lent is for more than making penitential acts, but it is a time for growing the Kingdom of God by growing the Body of Christ.
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