When I was growing up among farms and gardens, I loved clover and dandelions. When I asked what they were, Granny would tell me they were weeds…with a look on her face that let me know they came straight from hell!
I loved those weeds though. They provided hours of fun. I made them into soup for my dolls. I fashioned necklaces, bracelets and even a crown or two. It also may be a little known fact that if you rub a dandelion on your knee, you will find out if that special someone loves you or not. The best part was I was allowed to pick as many weeds as I wanted!
Weeds are remarkable in other ways as well. They can grow in the most unexpected places, right?! Out of the crack in a sidewalk or between the bricks in your paver patio. Sometimes they show up right in the middle of your newly treated green yard or among your prize roses. Granny never really appreciated that. She could accept a thorn but show her a thistle and look out!
As I walked today I was drawn to the weeds. I saw my beloved clover calling me to create. I noticed the local protected prairie garden full of beautiful weeds short and tall. They were as beautiful to me as the manicured gardens I passed by.
When I walk I pray. Today I focused on the young men I will meet in my teaching assignment and in the new ministry. I have always taught students with emotional, learning, and behavioral disabilities. There have been girls in my classes but boys take up most of the seats. I have taught boys who are white, Latino, African-American and now Native Americans who are mostly Dine’ or Navajo.
All of these boys have had something in common. They are the weeds in a well tended garden. They stand out (in a bad way). They don’t fit the landscape. The thistles hurt themselves and others. Their bad attitudes, quirky behaviors and or extreme learning needs cause friction. It is easier to pluck them from the garden. Yet they some how keep showing up…
I pray today because last summer young Native boys far out in the deserts of Arizona had no interest in connecting with us. They sat huddled in broken down cars with their bandanas tight on their foreheads looking fierce. I recognized the blank stares. The dare to penetrate their fortress of anger. It is one thing to offer them a water in the desert and another thing to offer them education in a middle school.
How will I convince these hardened hearts to find hope and healing with education. Their desires are often to be sheep herders, rodeo riders or artists. They want to stay among their people. Schools and governments often train for occupations that take you away from your people. How can they catch a vision to have a productive life and strengthen their communities? What am I really going to teach this year?
I am sure the gardeners among our readers will think about metaphors for weeds that are different from mine. All the stories are important. All the gardens are under the same sun. I am choosing the weeds to tend, however. I want them to know how valuable they are to those of us who are looking to see if we are special to Someone.