I really like pulling weeds; especially in the herb bed where I can smell the cilantro when I brush it with my elbow, and the blooming parsley and thyme that I push out of the way. Squatting or kneeling on the dirt or grass, head down, looking for unwanted sprouts, grasping them as close to the root as I can and tossing them aside, I let my senses follow the pattern while my mind, freed of attentive work, processes the queue of waiting thoughts. While my hands and eyes are focused on finding and plucking, my mind has space to reorganize impressions and feelings that have been set aside. It is usually mildly cathartic, as I tug at a difficult weed, or pull only the top off a large one, attaching small physical acts to the frustrations and failures unprocessed inside.
It is easy to see my garden as an allegory for my soul. It is difficult but necessary work to weed out those unwanted “bad” plants. Even the “good” plants that are in the wrong place must come out. If I want my garden to be fruitful, the soil must be cultivated, the seeds must be planted, the weeds removed, the plants tended. None of those things are especially easy, and all require regular attentive action. But in the end, I cannot do anything to make the plants. The seed is a grace, a mercy from God: it is life, waiting for my responsiveness.
In both my garden and my soul, the weeds are never completely removed. I try to catch them before they choke the seedlings, crowd out the veggies, or go to seed. Sometimes I have to remind myself that a completely weed-free garden is not possible, but a healthy garden is. Weeding is necessary, but only part of the cultivation process that allows the plants to thrive and bear fruit.