I knew the weeds were growing taller but I have tried not to notice as I pass the garden on my way to the barn each day. It was hit hard by hail in mid August and I have abandoned the ruins. Shredded leaves, fatally bruised and rotting vegetables, and dying plants are now hidden by the weeds that were fed by the rain. It seems odd that the same storm that destroyed so many plants gave life to others, and while the recent hot days of late summer have wilted the few surviving flowers, it has done little harm to the weeds.
This morning, a day off and a morning to linger compelled me to venture into the garden that seemed so unfamiliar and lost. I have never left a garden to erode into such a state. My gardens have always been such a source of pride and pleasure to me. But as my grown children now have lives of their own, my work force has dwindled and I find my own time consumed with the busyness of life that leaves little time for gardening, yard work, sewing, crafting, canning, cheese making, and other things that once served my family and gave me such pride and pleasure. Walking through my garden, I am saddened by the ruin but I am not motivated to move garden cleanup up on my list of priorities, and as I evaluate my life, I realize that the things I once loved must be put away – at least for a season- as other things demand my time and my heart.
As I wander through my abandoned garden, I wonder what other loves have laid claim to my heart. There are so many good distractions in my life that it is often difficult to recognize when my heart is so crowded with love for good things that it has pushed out the most important things. While gardening may worthy and productive, I pray I will always remember that a task is never more important than the people it serves. And while I want to live the life of a virtuous woman, I never want a love for prideful virtues to overshadow a love for my Lord. Sometimes it is so easy to love good things that we forget our first and only real love and that our time and our life belong to Him. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” It is easy to say we aim for heaven, but so often it is really difficult to know our own hearts and truly recognize who or what it is we love. The older I get the more I see the need to surrender my life to the potter’s wheel; there is still so much of me that needs chipped away and reshaped and remolded. I want to be filled to overflowing with a bigger love while I freely surrender and abandon the treasures and pleasures to which I cling, and my heart gladly says with the hymnist, “Have thine own way…. Mold me and make me after thy will.”
My garden is overgrown and abandoned; it is a temporarily forgotten love, and one day there will be time to clean it and put it in order, but I pray the only love I abandon in the midst of a busy life is a love for those things that are temporal as my heart clings ever stronger to that which is eternal.