During this 2021 Summer of Covid one of my self-care, emotional survival practices has been weeding. Sure, I weed my garden more or less every summer, but with more time at home immersed in Zoom calls and less time traveling, the weeds have been calling to me – “Take me, Take me. Clean me out!” Upon reflection, following are at least 4 things the weeds have been teaching me.

  1. Weeding is therapeutic: Much of my work in the social justice and spirituality realm is hard to quantify or see a noticeable difference. BUT, weeding is visible and practical. I can directly see the difference I’ve made. After an hour of pulling the unwelcome weeds cluttering my vegetable garden, I now see a clean space with healthy, brown soil. I feel like I’ve accomplished something; made a difference.
  2. Rain is my friend: As satisfying as pulling weeds can be, rain has a double purpose. If forces me to go inside and do those chores that I’ve been avoiding – plow through my email, plan Zoom meetings, vacuum and sweep. Rain also makes it easier to pull weeds the next day.
  3. It’s important to pull the whole weed including its root: When I don’t pull the weed out with its full root, it grows back stronger. Isn’t this a life lesson too? When I try to solve a relationship or political problem if I (or society) doesn’t get to the root of the problem (poverty, illness, lack of education) the problem reappears later and has often multiplied.
  4. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish a weed from a good plant: As I was energetically pulling weeds out of my blackberry patch, I mistakenly cut off some branches that I thought were dead, but as I pulled them out, I realized that they were attached to some very healthy

    Lemon sorrel

    stems. I also found that some “weeds” that I had been happily pulling were actually yellow wood sorrel – a tangy, lemony flavored herb that can be used in salads or substituted for parsley.
    (I learned this from a friend who had accompanied me on a prayer walk through a local park. She picked up a piece of sorrel and said, “Here, eat this.” I said, “Hey, I’ve got loads of these in my vegetable patch and I’ve been pulling them up as weeds.”
    Isn’t this a lot like life? As we look at people who might be dirty or we don’t like, we want to weed them out of our space. What might look like a weed might be a gift in disguise.

What lessons has nature been teaching you these days? What emotional survival practices have helped you?