It was an accident, actually – one of those things that come upon you when your mind in in a totally different realm, and God takes you by surprise and snatches you up. The “accident” I’m referring to is my new spiritual exercise.
The exercise began with my new “job” this summer, which is to plant and tend the garden boxes in our back and side yards. That’s normally a project that my husband and youngest son tackle, but this year it’s up to me, since Mark needs to focus his time and energy on changes he’s making to his business and Son #3 has other projects for which he’s needed.
Enter the wife-mother-author-columnist-speaker turned gardener. It’s not that I don’t like gardening; it’s just not my favorite thing to do when I’m not wife-ing, mothering, authoring, columnist-ing, or speaker-ing. So, when the window for planting was starting to close and no one else could get to it, I stepped forward and volunteered to take responsibility for the garden boxes on our property. Eyebrows raised and smirks hidden, the real gardeners in the family said, “Sure.”
Determined not to lose face, I mustered up my gumption, grabbed Son #3 (brought along for his expert advice) and headed to the garden center. There I purchased three flats of plants and a rather large handful of seed packets. Within two afternoons and evenings, everything was planted. Not necessarily straight and evenly spaced, but in. Whew.
Then, smugly, I sat back on my proverbial laurels to watch “my” garden boxes spring to life. Interesting thing about gardens – as the plants spring to life, so do the weeds, but much more, uh, life-ier. Yeah. So much for those laurels. They’re useless when it comes to weed control.
That meant you-know-who had to get herself out there on a regular basis to take over the weeds before they took over the vegetable plants. In fairness to my husband and son, they did offer to help here and there when they could. I pridefully refused. The garden boxes are MY baby this year, and I’m out to prove I can do it. So, there.
Enter the wife-mother-author-columnist-speaker’s wildly hectic schedule. Oh, boy.
They say that kids don’t thrive if they’re deprived of attention. I tried that with the weeds. It didn’t work. They grew even faster out of spite.
Miffed, I set aside an entire evening and sweatingly tore every single weed out of each box. I even yanked out the weed wannabes. The only thing offended by that were my hips and knees. They told me so the next day. LOUDLY.
Next day, the weeds were back, even the wannabes who were now full-fledged weeds. Very funny.
One day – with a huge deadline looming – I decided I needed to get out of the home office for a bit. I took a prayer break because I hadn’t said my Rosary yet. It was a gorgeous day outside, so I took my beads and headed out the back door. I plopped myself down in the lawn chair and started the Sign of the Cross. Feeling restless, I chose to say the Rosary as I walked around the yard, during which time I could admire my amazing gardening prowess.
Evidently, the weeds had a LOT more prowess that I did. The boxes were riddled with them. Again.
Infuriated, I switched the Rosary to my other hand, leaned over, and started plucking out weeds, one by one between the Hail Mary’s. Hail Mary…pluck…full of grace…pluck…the Lord…pluck…is with thee… And so on. Before long, I had reached a peaceful, relaxing rhythm to my prayer-plucking and – incredibly – I was truly enjoying it!
As I worked more and more on the garden, the prayers worked more and more on me. The weed plucking became symbolic for me of how, as I said the Rosary , our Mother Mary was plucking the spiritual weeds out of my heart: Fear, frustration, pain, weakness, doubt, and all the things that keep me from growing freely in God’s love. Child, let me soothe your fears…pluck…let me calm your frustrations…pluck…let me ease this pain…pluck…let me strengthen you in your weakness…pluck…let me remove your doubt…pluck… And so on.
What began as happenstance is now a purposeful part of each day for me. Nearly every afternoon, and often again in the evening, I grab my Rosary, head out the back door and do my prayer-plucking. It’s become a spiritual exercise, involving mind, body and spirit in a way that is both practical and aesthetic. My hands transform the garden boxes into something beautiful and fruitful, while the Blessed Mother’s hands transform my heart into something beautiful and fruitful. And that’s no accident.