The other day I was outside and noticed a large weed had grown up in half of an old wine barrel we use for plants. I grabbed it as close to the soil as I could and pulled on it. Nothing. I reached down again and pulled with two hands and the weed came out slowly. When all of it had finally emerged the root of the weed was almost as long as the weed itself. I noticed another one and removed it. In another pot, there was also a tall weed. I yanked on it and it didn’t budge. I tried again and zero gain. Even with two hands, it wasn’t going anywhere. The roots of the weed had entangled themselves with the roots of the bush in this pot and were only coming out if the bush came out with it.
Reflecting back on the tall weeds I thought about how there are often weeds in our lives. Hurts, habits, and hang-ups that don’t produce anything positive and affirming in us. Often before any of these “weeds” are noticed they have rooted themselves in our attitudes, personalities, words, and actions. When we become aware of them or someone else makes us aware we want to rid ourselves of them. We face our hurts, develop better, more mindful habits and try to untangle ourselves from hangups. Hopefully, they come out and goodness, kindness, and love take their place. However, if we aren’t careful and allow these “weeds” to continue to take root, dig deeper into our souls they become a part of us and we can’t tell where they end and we begin.
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Born Again –
I desire to be born again, each day emerging from a blanket cocoon, different from the person I was yesterday. Each day we take steps toward who we will eventually be at the end of our lives. Some are making progress toward love, grace, kindness, and peace, others walk in another direction.
What we do today determines who we will be tomorrow. This is a truth I try to live by. What we put our minds to, invest our emotions in, allow our spirits to inhabit, shapes the person we’ll be tomorrow and in the future. We underestimate the “big” and “little” experiences we encounter each day. We dismiss character flaws, hidden hurts, negative habits, and other behaviors and attitudes that either place chains on our souls.
To emerge, new each day, takes work today. We choose where our path will go, not what our path will go through, but its destination. We can’t make our path easy or difficult but we can decide how we handle both. The decision isn’t on tomorrow’s agenda but today’s.
This morning, during worship, Beth and I sat behind a couple who had an older son with Down’s Syndrome. (http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/What-Is-Down-Syndrome/) He sang the songs, clapped, laughed uproariously, and became so excited a few times his mom would whisper in his ear to settle him down.
Beth and I have worked with people with Down’s Syndrome before so he wasn’t bothering us. In fact, just the opposite, he enhanced my worship with his full commitment to what was happening around him. No worries about what others thought about what he was doing or about him.
Native Americans are said to have thought children with Down’s Syndrome had an insight to God because of their innocence. I always think about that when I am near or interacting with someone with Down’s Syndrome. From my work with them, I know they are not always so “innocent.” They can be mischievous, angry, playful, stubborn and emote with the best drama kings and queens. However, what they don’t do as often is hide what they’re feeling. Their good and not so good behavior, joys and frustrations, happy-go-lucky attitudes and refusal to do something they aren’t in the mood to do can be fulfilling or draining for their caretakers.
Their innocence is not ever doing anything wrong but rather their refusal to hide, be ashamed, be less than what they are no matter who’s watching. They aren’t governed by their need to impress or be thought well of by anyone
In that sense, they are not only innocent but also role models for the rest of us.
Ongoing Grace –
One of the hardest acts in life is letting go of the expectation of an apology from someone who has hurt, offended us. Many times, we never receive what we are tempted to think we deserve.
Not too long ago I received a surprising apology from someone who had hurt me years ago. They asked for forgiveness and I gave it to them. However, apologies can be tricky. When someone expresses regret about an action or harmful words our ability to forgive has much to do with our place on the journey of forgiveness. Saying the words; “I forgive you.” helps but rarely completely, instantly heals the wounds.
Since the apology, there have been moments of pain when I am reminded the wounds are still healing. Times when memories are relived and the urge to fall back into negative thoughts patterns, judgmental attitudes are present. It is here, on our journey, we realize forgiveness is not a one-time act or phrase but a process, an ongoing combination of acts, words, and intent of spirit. There are seasons, moments, instances when the past impresses itself on the present. Wisdom teaches us not to ignore, resent, or seek escape but to let it be a reminder that forgiveness in an ongoing act of grace.