Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Beauty in the Weeds

A few weeks ago I was having a rough day. The kids were going crazy,  I was overtired, and it was all I could do not to drown myself in a pile of chocolate and/or lock my kids in their playroom while borrowing my husband's noise cancelling headphones for an hour. Or even five minutes.

After dinner, my husband brought Will outside while I cleaned up the kitchen and gave Evie a bath. While I was doing the former, the doorbell rang. I opened the door to find a certain blond haired, blue eyed little boy standing there with a giant grin and a fistful of dead dandelions.

"Here, Mommy! I picked you some flowers!"

I looked down at that little face and its giant smile and bright eyes and all my frustrations of the day melted away. I then looked down at the fistful of dead dandelions and had an inner sigh - especially as I glimpsed the semi-apologetic look on Steve's face as he handed me a branch from our blossomed cherry tree and a length of phlox. The look that said "I tried to teach our son how to pick flowers for Mommy, and he decided that dead weeds were the way to go."

But I mean... that face on that little boy holding those browned stems with the seeds holding on waiting for a strong breeze... talk about a heart melt...

When this face hands you a fistful of dandelions, you love them.
Because you love this face, and the giving heart behind it.

My paternal grandfather died when I was just shy of 8 years old, but I have very clear memories with him in the few years before that. My parents divorced when I was 5, but my brother and I would still head to visit with my grandparents and father about once a month. My grandfather had a vegetable garden and several flower beds, and I would follow him around asking what things were and being a general 6 or 7 year old nuisance. I would sit beside him on his bed as he watched "The Victory Garden", hoping he would notice me and take the headphones out so I could hear too.

One day while I was out in the yard with him, I very clearly remember picking some dandelions and buttercups and little purple flowers and bringing them over to him. I wanted to share - very proudly - these beautiful yellow flowers that I even left enough stem to put in a cup of water.

He looked at me confused as I reached to hand him the flowers. "What are you giving me weeds for? Those aren't flowers!" 

This was the day that I learned the difference between weeds and wanted, purposeful plants. I also learned from my Papa that day that my Nana loved to get flowers from her grandkids, so I brought them to her from then on while Papa shook his head with a smile.

"Bena and Kenny" - Circa 1980-something in my grandparents' back yard.
Yep, that's a scan of a Polaroid.
Confession: To this day when our lawn gets cluttered with the yellow heads of dandelions every spring, even though I know that they can choke out the grass and deteriorate the health of our lawn - a part of me still sees the beauty of the yellow against the backdrop of green. When I see the weeds that sprout purple flowers start to take over the cracks coming out of our rock wall, I wait until the flowers have withered before I pull the weeds out.

I have fond memories of dandelions and purple flowers and the yellow buttercups of clover plants sitting in Dixie Cups on windowsills in my parents' kitchen that we picked. They were the first flowers I picked as a gift and the first flowers I taught my siblings to pick.

Image from
Check out this write-up about dandelions being used in tires.

Then there is the story of Jesus being anointed by the sinful woman while dining with the Pharisee.

"When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself , 'If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is - that she is a sinner.'" (Luke 7:36-39)

A sinner. A societal weed. A broken, unwanted person among those who are perceived to be beautiful and desired. Someone who is viewed as disposable, who will choke out the beauty.

But Jesus.

Jesus doesn't see the ugly that the Pharisee sees. He sees this woman's beauty, he sees her heart, sees more than her sin.

"Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - as her great love has shown.'" (Luke 7:44-47)

Wild violets - my favorite weeds. Yes, I have favorite weeds.

There is much beauty to be found in the weeds and it's more than the beauty of the yellow, purple, white, or whatever colored flowers that poke their heads out in the spring.

Last night while we were out playing with the kids, a baby bird just kicked out of the nest was trying to figure out how to fly and had flown itself right into the middle of our street. Steve ran into the basement, grabbed a box and some gloves, and rescued the baby bird from becoming road kill. "Mommy," Will asked me, "what's Daddy doing?"

"I am going to bring this baby bird back into the woods so it doesn't get run over by a car. Do you want to see it before I bring it back?"

My 13-month old daughter bounced excitedly and reached up for me to bring her to see the bird. My 3-year-old son said "Oh! Yes!" and ran up the sidewalk to see the tiny bird. On his way up, he passed a grouping of dandelions on the edge of the lawn. "Oh! I will bring it some flowers!" he said as he grabbed a fistful and ripped them away from their base.

Notice the dead dandelions on the right side of the box. 
The heart of a 3-year-old says to bring the scared little baby bird some flowers because that will make it feel better.

The beauty in the weeds isn't in the flowers. It's in the heart of those that pick the flowers to give to their Papa, their Nana, their Mommy, or the scared baby bird. Yes, weeds have undesirable qualities - but so do I. So do you.

The beauty lies in the heart.

Let your heart flowers bloom.

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