Saturday, July 17, 2010

Weed and Write

Today I got to weed the garden. Usually my husband does it but he had a long 'to do' list and I had a short one [shock!] So I offered to help - anything to get out of the house. I planned on listening to my iPod but didn't remember to get it until I had already donned the crocks and gloves and gathered all the tools. I had to settle for using my imagination.

Like Anne Shirley, I have a great imagination. It has saved me from boredom many times and distracted me when I was supposed to be paying attention even more often. Usually my thoughts wander one of three directions: the story I am currently working on, some other random plot that's running around in my head, or symbolism. The last is due to my high school English and Creative Writing teacher who taught her classes to look for symbolism in everything.

Today my thoughts went to symbolism. How could they not when I stood in a garden - the mecca of symbolism. The scriptures speak of sowing what we reap, Alma teaches of faith growing like a seed, and the infamous Jacob 5 describes the necessity of grafting and pruning.

As I hoed and shoveled and raked in an early morning rain, I likened my efforts to life and writing. I had some very profound thoughts :) - at least i thought so at the time. I'll try to do them justice.

A garden has dirt, a.k.a. soil, and seeds, plants and weeds. Success depends on quality of seeds, nutrients, and care. Before seeds are planted the soil needs to be prepared. This may involve compost, tilling, raking, fertilizer, nitrogen, and outlining what will be planted, how many rows, and when the ideal time for germination will be. At the beginning and end of each growing season, my husband treats the soil and takes care of it so it will be able to produce food for us the next year. He rotates where he plants seeds so the soil can replenish. He often consults with his father, who kept a garden for nearly 50 years.

Undoubtedly, not all the plants will grow. There are forces of nature like bugs and weeds that weaken the plants. There are also people like me who don't always know the difference between plants and weeds and hack down both.  ["what happened to the chives?" "Chives? So that's why I thought i smelled onions when I was weeding over there."][fyi - chives look like tall grass]

Writing a story is like planting a garden. It starts with a fertile [get it?] imagination and an idea. the idea is a seed that grows over time with plotting [see how much symbolism there is in a garden?] and careful planning and outlining [see above paragraph for the analogy]. Even the most carefully attended plots need a bit of pruning and revising, even some restructuring for ideal growth. Sometimes situations will come up when the skill of someone more experienced is needed. It's nice to have other gardeners to talk to and learn from their expertise. Inevitably there will be things that need to be weeded out. that can be the toughest part, trying to figure out what really is a weed - what can be left in, what needs to be taken out. Even then there will be parts that bug some people. Not every one will like what you plant in your garden. At the end of the season, the harvest can be shared. Sometimes your product will sell and other times, the only people who enjoy the fruits of your labor are close friends and family.

Is that a corny analogy or what?

Now, for life. I've been reading a book by Wendy Ulrich called "Weakness is Not a Sin". It is a great book, I highly recommend it. I couldn't help thinking of some of her insights as I was weeding. As the title implies, she focuses on distinguishing between weakness and sin. She states that many people confuse having weaknesses with being weak instead of realizing they are an important part of life, even necessary to help us achieve our potential. They humble us and help us to rely on the Lord. Sin, on the other hand, may be caused by weakness, but leads us away from Christ.

Weeds are like weaknesses. They will always be part of a garden. We could feel like a failure as a gardener because we can't keep the weeds away or realize that weeding gets us in the garden where we constantly see what needs to be tended to. Like weeds, weaknesses often pop up just when we thought we were getting stronger. Again, we could feel defeated or be thankful the Lord is showing us other places that need attention.

Bugs are like sins. They are destructive. If not controlled or removed the crops may become diseased. It is important to get rid of them quickly before the damage is irreverible. Of course, almost all sins can be forgiven so we should never give up. Gardening is a lifetime process.

Well, those are my insights. I had more but I keep getting interupted and lose my train of thought. But I've said enough. I love symbolism. It's all around us, all the time. Thanks to my afore mentioned teacher I find messages in almost everything.

It's time for me to get back to weeding - my life, that is.