Friday, April 20, 2012

Pulling Weeds

I posted a status update on FB the other day about the girls' reactions to me weeding one of the plant beds. As the week has gone on, I've made a point to spend a little time each afternoon pulling weeds in different areas of the compound. The observations I have made during these moments have provided both learning opportunities for the girls, and revelation for myself. 

Day 1: (FB excerpt) "Tried in vain to explain to the girls while weeding part of the garden that, just because something is green, leafy, and growing very tall, doesn't mean it's a good plant. A weed, by any other name (or in any other country), is still a weed. I think there's an object lesson in there for all of us..." While they did reluctantly help me carry the pile of discarded greenery to the trash can, they mostly just frowned at me while I worked.

Day 2: I sat down down just below the front porch where the girls gather to do homework, fix hair, or just play and talk, and begun running my hands through the long grass planted in a rectangular cement block. It's then that I saw something that would make any environmentally conscious individual cringe: trash! And lots of it, hiding beneath the lovely green blades. "Fatra (trash)!" I exclaimed, and began making a pile of the foreign objects to be deposited in the appropriate container. Before long, the twins, Angelene and Angeline, came and joined me in removing the trash. After a significant amount (but not all) of trash  had been removed, I started identifying what I was really after...the weeds. A few other little girls came along and the twins gave them directions to keep looking for and removing trash, while I continued to pull weeds until there were none left.

Day 3: This time I started in the plant beds along the drive way by the gate. As soon as I sat down, there were 5 little girls, practically tripping over each other to remove and dispose of the trash appropriately. They watched intently as I started pulling the weeds around the beautiful flowering bushes. A few minutes went by, and the girls started pointing to green sprouts, asking if they were,"Pa bon (no good)", and then pulling them up by the roots, just as they had seen me do.  It wasn't long before they were going after the weeds all by themselves and getting excited when they pulled up something with surprisingly big/deep roots. We finished up, and the little girls went on with their afternoon/evening routine.

Lesson: that trash is bad for plants, it keeps from growing properly, and just plain looks ugly. Through observation, they are also learning that not everything that grows is good. After just a short time, they can now look at a small area of garden, and identify the things that are "pa bon" and remove it themselves. They naturally celebrate when the "pa bon" weeds have been removed, and what remains is a lovely, healthy plant.

Observation & Revelation: As I thought about the whole process, a picture of life in the Spirit began to emerge. Where were the older girls during all this time? They were busy doing "other stuff": homework, sewing class, English class, etc. They have been looking at the same things for so long, they don't know any different so why bother to change it? Often times, that's what happens to us. The older we get, the busier we are, and we get so caught up doing "stuff" that we don't even realize how much trash we've allowed to accumulate in our lives.  The middle girls are the ones that mostly frowned at me for pulling up something that was clearly green and growing strong, so it must be good. They've never been taught any differently so they are reluctant to get rid of the weeds,  because they look "pretty". If we don't pay attention to what we allow to grow in our lives (thought patterns, habits, relationships, etc) it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate between the good stuff and the bad stuff. Sometimes they are so intertwined that they begin to look like the same thing. Then there are the little girls: naturally curious, quick to accept instruction and learn, and not afraid to put it into practice on their own. If that is fostered on a continual basis, there will be little opportunity for weeds to grow before they are identified and plucked out. What remains is the good "fruit", if you will.

I think I'm really starting to understand what Jesus meant when he said,

Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

Matthew 18:3