Sunday, 15 July 2012
Dandelions nettles and daisies
Three years ago I had reason to visit an allotment.
What is that? I hear some of you ask.
It’s a system peculiar to Great Britain whereby the Local Government Authorities (Local Councils) rent a small piece of land to anyone on which to grow their own fruits and vegetables.
The piece of land is called an “allotment” and these are usually situated in the middle of towns and cities all over the UK. The land has been earmarked for such use and (hopefully) will never be built upon.
The practice, I understand, started in the Second World War when food was scarce and to encourage people to “dig for Britain” and grow their own food.
Anyway … at this allotment I met an old man whom I’ve never met before. I don’t know why, but usually complete strangers feel at ease to talk to me and tell me their life stories. So I listened.
He said he’d had that allotment for about ten years or so. His piece of land was about 20 metres by 10 metres or so. On it he had gooseberries, black currants, red currants, rhubarb, a small vine, a fig tree, spinach, cabbage, parsnips, runner beans, marrows, courgettes, and a variety of herbs and other vegetables too numerous to remember.
He complained that since he injured his hand in an accident cutting the tendons he found it difficult to grip and uproot the weeds in his allotment. But his children and grand-children helped him toil the land.
In conversation he let slip that he was 82 years old.
I silently prayed for him and wished I was as fit as him if I ever were to be his age.
He then added: Never, ever give up. No matter how hard it is, how difficult it is, or how tired you are: don’t give up. If you do give up, the weeds will soon take over your allotment and all your hard work will go to waste. And you have to start all over again.
I left him with those words ringing in my ears. A complete stranger with a message which can be adapted to our Christian walk.
Never, ever give up. Or the weeds (sin) will soon take over your life and all your hard work will go to waste.
That night I said a prayer for that old gentleman with a salutary message.
A few days later it was another beautiful, warm and sunny day. I spent sometime in the garden pruning the bushes.
Half an hour after I started a friend came to visit. I must explain that I’ve left a corner of the garden to grow freely. My friend looked at it and said: “these are all weeds … they must come out …”
I pointed at the little yellow and blue flowers and said they looked pretty; and they attracted butterflies and other insects.
My friend said: “They’re weeds. You’ve dandelions there, and nettles and …” naming a variety of plants I hadn’t even heard of.
What is a weed I thought, isn’t it a plant that you don’t want? There are people who make nettle tea – you can buy it at the health shop. I suppose to them a nettle is not a weed but a livelihood. I also read somewhere that dandelions are used in medicine.
Then I thought … I hope God is more selective when He comes to judge us and to choose whom from His creations are worthy to enter Heaven.
Will He say disparagingly: “You’re a weed” – or will He welcome us in His Kingdom?