It’s one of those laborious jobs that emits a large *sigh* from me as I bend down…again and again…to pluck the weeds that threaten to overtake what little garden I have managed to keep going year after year. You have to nip them in the bud, so to speak, removing them as they pop up instead of waiting until there is so many that you don’t have a clue where to begin….an insurmountable task that you may give up on completely. The longer you leave them, the deeper they take root, the more they outnumber the flowers, the harder they are to get rid of. Some will automatically submit as you pull them up easily out of the ground. Others need to be loosened with a weeding tool…one that reaches the deep roots.
…snip, snip, dig and pull…and sometimes replace…with a new flower.
It’s not all that quite different from the garden of our soul…the garden where the weeds of imperfections, habits, and sins have taken root in a garden not very well tended sometimes. It is also a laborious task..one that continues for the rest of our life…yet it is a task motivated by love. These imperfections need to also be nipped in the bud before they become habitual…numerous. Some are easily snipped and disposed of with a little effort…some are so deep that despite our best efforts…only the Divine Gardener can uproot them. It can be painful…it is purifying. St. John of the Cross states in The Dark Night that “…cut off superficially, these roots, sooner or later, send forth shoots in a new direction…No one can be freed from the roots of his faults without passing through the painful night of the spirit.”
Our efforts are needed…necessary. We can begin to snip these imperfections…pull out the habits…help dig up the root of our sins. We can replace a habitual imperfection or vice with a virtue…a beautiful flower. In The Spiritual Canticle, St. John compares the soul in union with God as a “bed in flower, made from the flowers of virtues…”.
In this bed, the virtues, that is the flowers, will become numerous, defending the garden bed of the soul from the weeds until they become so weak, they can no longer thrive within us.
And then the soul will flower, its scent alluring God…and He will then delight in the garden of our soul.