This Morning’s Garden

It'd be really spectacular if it weren't for the weeds

Calliandra in Garden

I sit in the garden about 7 am. Precious time alone, bought and paid for with a TV remote. May be a bit of God’s grace too.

It’s cool and I look up to see branches on tall and far-away trees, slowly and gracefully swaying as if to wave good morning. Small leaves on a closer crepe myrtle flitter in a barely-there breeze. The jasmine on the fence is in bloom. It stretches about a dozen yards to form a green wall separating my space from my neighbor’s. Its smell permeates the air, may be just slightly too strong a perfume.

A hummingbird comes to visit. I love it when they do! It’s flitting around one particular plant, laden with bright pink blooms. Although the garden’s been left untended, plenty of color flourishes here. This single plant – the calliandra, I think – probably has a hundred melon-colored blooms. I favor it because the flowers are so unusual. Not traditional ones with petals. More like something you’d find in the ocean: a sea anemone. But the short spikes that spray out from this flower are soft and delicate. Hair-like.

In my line of vision, I see a bed overtaken with weeds. Some short and spreading that make an ugly ground cover; another type, well-supported at the base, which sends up straight and tall spikes, almost two feet high. Behind the calliandra stand two rose bushes, bare-legged and sharing their space with a vine-like weed that’s wrapped its tendrils around the branches.

I’m impressed that beauty still insists on showing itself amidst a garden full of weeds. The color of the few blooms present here is still what first attracts my eye, and I admire it before moving on to less-satisfying sights. The weeds have not fully choked out these more majestic, if not stubborn, plants who refuse to have the spotlight stolen from them.

But how much more beauty would be, if only I’d take the time to do the hard work?

Smaller, less-adamant plants, whose roots aren’t as well-established, are truly prevented from displaying their glory. They’re disguised among uglier plants that have become emboldened by not having been uprooted; having not had their growth disrupted, prevented These impostors are taking hold of soil that should’ve been freed from their persistence, ground that’s become their home; real estate which should’ve been purged of their presence.

It’s hard to ignore the MORE that could have been (by now), that still could be (not long from now) if only I’m willing to get my hands dirty.

I’m awed by the beauty that’s still here, in spite of my lack of sacrifice. Humbled even, ‘cause I can’t take a bit of credit. May be the original plantings were my doing, but none of the maintenance or upkeep. That’s been left to Nature and the sprinkler system…forces put on automatic timers that don’t require any effort on my part.

But the thought still nags my mind: There could be so much more…..

It’s much like this in the garden of our hearts: beauty and weeds both growing up together. It’s hard work to uproot the weeds. It takes constant vigilance. Some ugliness comes up with a small twist of two fingers; other weeds require back-breaking work. I know. I’ve done both the light and the hard work – in my real garden and in the garden of my heart.

When I look out the window of my brick-and-mortar home, to the garden beyond, I can feel overwhelmed by the weeds. (Actually that’s a regular occurrence). Likewise, when I look inward with spiritual eyes, to the heart inside my parts-and-organs home, I can feel overwhelmed by what still needs to be done. It’s easy to become discouraged. Thank God He doesn’t leave me there.

Instead, He reveals to me the beauty already inside of me – that which He originally put there and that which has been added to it through sacrifice of my own, and under His loving-care. He shows me plants sprouting up in pure defiance of the ugliness; flowers in bloom challenging the impostors to a show-down. Their beauty talks smack and says, “You’re going down.”

He also tenderly points me to areas that still need tending. It’d hurt worse if I didn’t feel okay with it, if I hadn’t given him permission. But I have, and I do – most days anyway. It’s because of His approach, because of His tenderness toward me, that I bow down, instead of buck up.

What it comes down to is this: the beauty that I feel now; the beautiful that presently exists in me was worth the effort, worth the sacrifice. What still cannot be labeled “beautiful” represents the hope of glory, Christ in me. It’s this hope that keeps me going. It’s this hope that helps me stand up from that garden bench, takes me down to my knees, where He’s able to say: “Let’s get our hands dirty”.

But that's enough about me…what about you?

This moment really took place in my garden this morning. (You'll find I don't make up much ). It inspired my thoughts toward the garden of my heart. Weeding is hard work. Does this post inspire any heart-thoughts in you?

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  • JoePasskiewicz

    Thanks for the post! The heart of a gardener! I agree- life is beauty and weeds- and the weeds seem to make the beauty that much stronger!

    Was that calliandra in the three vases at church this morning? I was really struck by the beauty of these flowers. Similar to your post- really just beautiful weeds. I can relate!

    Thanks for your post Samantha!

    • Samantha Livingston

       @JoePasskiewicz Thanks Joe! It’s great to know you can relate  :). So often it seems we seek the beauty, the beauty, the beauty….we forget it can exist in unexpected places, a concept a gardener can understand. And I love your reference to the weeds (pain) that can be the turning point into the beauty.

  • LauraCox

    When I asked how your morning was when I saw you before church, I had no idea you had been up to so much so early in the day!! I just love this and it reminds that of a conversation I recently had where a small group of women realized that there will be weeds no matter what “season” we’re in, but The flip side is that there’s beauty blooming in every season as well.

    • Samantha Livingston

       @LauraCox YES!!! Preach it sister! Thanks for commenting Laura. :) Keep ‘em coming!

  • 300poundsdown

    I have been thinking lately about how gardening relates to what God has to teach us and this was perfect!! I just spent the past weekend digging up dead bushes and planting flowers and I knew God had something to teach me.  Thank you for sharing this!! So timely for me!

    • Samantha Livingston

       @300poundsdown Holly….oh my goodness! What can I say? I just read your recent blogpost and I’m so excited that you found me and this post blessed you and that your post is such an encouraging blessing to me and SO many others who are regulars on your site. Keep up the great work Holly. Amazing stories are coming out of your journey!!

  • Kristenwhitaker

    Thank you for sharing this Samantha.
      For me, I think the weeds in my life can sometimes be masked as guilt and shame for obstacles I feel can not be overcome.  But then, I think that this is what Satan would have me believe and it allows me to feel sufficated and hopeless.  Thank you for helping me to look outside of the weeds….and marvel in the beauty of the garden, the blessings that God gives me, in spite of how “full of weeds”  life may seem at times. 

    • Samantha Livingston

       @Kristenwhitaker Precious, precious insights Kristen! Thanks so much for YOUR sharing. It’s not easy for any of us to peel back the layers and put our weeds out there for others to see. I’m learning It takes courage but I think it’s worth the risk. :) You ARE beautiful!!!

    • Samantha Livingston

       @Kristenwhitaker  Precious, precious insights Kristen! Thanks so much for YOUR sharing. It’s not easy for any of us to peel back the layers and put our weeds out there for others to see. Here’s what I’m learning: it takes courage but I think it’s worth the risk. :) You ARE beautiful!!!

  • laurafowler

    When I have been praying lately, I keep remembering the word HOPE.  I love it!  It’s easy to get down on myself, but it’s so encouraging to me to remember that He is not done with me yet.  There is hope!:)  And I love the image of bowing down instead of bucking up!  Thanks for this post…  I think I am going to sit in my garden now.  :)

    • Samantha Livingston

       @laurafowler I love it when God whispers words that many of us hear echoes of at the same time. Proof of the amazing unity He brings us into by His Spirit. Thanks for sharing Laura.