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As a SoCal weather wimp, I’ve felt perpetually chilled for weeks as our nights have dipped down into the low 40’s. So, when the sun came out after a stormy interlude last week, I took my morning coffee break to sit on a rock with the local lizards and soak up those rays.
It felt glorious, until I glanced around and saw the incredible weed infestation that had sprung up overnight (whoever told us that rock gardens with indigenous plants are low maintenance was sorely uninformed!)
Weeds are amazing, when you think about it. They shoot up unbidden, having powered through layers of protective plastic, rocks and even boulders, and then they spread profusely, wreaking havoc like kamikaze warriors. I have never been able to figure out why our regular plants demand such care--fertilizing, balancing the soil, watering enough, but not too much—while weeds seem to flourish with no help from us at all.
Getting rid of the weeds in my soul feels like a never-ending task. Cynicism or judgement or self-pity or pride or a hundred other sins can spring up unbidden and before I know it, that garden within where Jesus has made his home, is a mess.
That reminded me of one of my favorite spiritual authors—Teresa of Avila, a 16th century saint, who shared amazing metaphors for our spiritual journey. For example, she describes our souls as gardens that can be very barren and “full of abominable weeds” that Jesus pulls up so he can plant good seeds. As we care for these seeds, our souls “bud and flower and give forth a most pleasant fragrance to provide refreshment for this Lord of ours.” Something about that mystery—that Jesus comes to enjoy the garden of my soul, makes me long to do whatever I can to make it a lovely experience for him.
Getting rid of the weeds in my soul feels like a never-ending task. Cynicism or judgement or self-pity or pride or anxiety or a hundred other sins can spring up unbidden and before I know it, that garden within where Jesus has made his home, is a mess.
This is one reason Lent is such a special season for me. It offers a time to journey with Jesus through his suffering, opening my soul to his tender care and boundless love, as he rips out the weeds that threaten to choke the flora of grace and virtue that he’s planted there. In the shadow of the cross, Jesus himself comes to water the dry places, till the hardened soil, and turn the budding plants into a profusion of beauty whose fragrance brings him joy. Nothing drives me more than the unfathomable privilege of bringing pleasure to my Lord.
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Tricia McCary Rhodes
Author of 7 books and pastor of Global Leadership Development at All Peoples Church in San Diego, Tricia specializes in helping others experience God’s presence through practicing soul-care.