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For the Weeds

It is the perfect summer day: 75 and sunny, with a handful of marshmallow shaped clouds dotting the pastel sky. Vacation is imminent and fruit is ripe and juicy. There’s still plenty of summer on the horizon. 

So why do I feel this way? Tired though I sleep well, needing something more in spite of deep gratitude and joy in my life. 

This past week’s Gospel had Jesus telling the people to let the plants and weeds grow together. Only at the end of it all will God then pull out the weeds and throw them into the fires of Gehenna. Scary language and scary when we think about the message in terms of good v. bad people, heaven v. hell. 

What struck me when I heard this though, two things occurred to me. First was God’s great kindness and patience. There are weeds? Let them grow. They are not a concern for now and so, not really a concern at all. A classic grown up move: “I’ll deal with it later, don’t worry about it.” The second thing that popped into my mind was an inward, mindfulness-based reading of the story. What if instead of concerning ourselves with good and bad people and God’s response, we turn inward? To our own good and bad parts – our good and bad thoughts, actions, feelings?

Thich Naht Hanh (among others) writes about approaching our bad, sad, and negative thoughts and feelings with a kindness and patience similar to God’s in this Gospel. Acknowledge the feeling with a sense of both friendliness and detachment, and the feeling loses some of its sting. 

God is kind and patient and is big enough for strange moods on beautiful days. I think he is inviting us to let these weeds grow in our lives without concerning ourselves with pulling them up. Let them grow, alongside the fruits and plants, and God will deal with it later. 

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