The Parable of the Weeds

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Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen -Daring Weeds3

“Is this one a good plant or a weed?” I say doubtfully, pointing out one specimen to my husband.

Really, I don’t need to be gardening today. We are moving in a few weeks, and then the garden will be a new tenant’s responsibility, and they can do battle with the snails themselves.

But there’s something about getting my hands dirty that is good for my soul. After long days wrestling two little ones, with too much coffee and too little adult conversation, my frazzled mind needs the physical meditation of pruning and digging, of mulching and weeding.

Our city garden is small: a patio partly covered by the kids’ sandpit, and a little patch of grass backing onto the train line, where orange and green coloured trains trundle loudly past us every 5-10 minutes. We’re also directly under the Heathrow flightpath. It’s hardly the Garden of Eden, but it’s our own oasis. I’ve shown Kaya where the lemon verbena and the lavender are found and she brings me leaves to rub and “sniff.” Oskar barrels up and down our small space at top-toddler speed and eats dirt when my back is turned.

The mystics frequently found God in nature. Hildegard of Bingen heard these words in a vision: “I, the fiery life of divine essence, am aflame beyond the beauty of the meadows, I gleam in the waters, and I burn in the sun, moon, and stars ….  I awaken everything to life.”

I feel myself being awakened back to life too, when I retreat out here after dinner time, the light stretching into the evening and the birds singing their evening song.

This little plot of land speaks in parables to me. As I prune the rose bush and deadhead the daffodils. As I learn how to train the jasmine up the side of the shed, and how to shake the seeds out of the poppies to be stirred into lemon muffins later. As I rest in the sunshine and watch the bees float drunkenly between the flowers. The garden teaches me about the seasons of my life, about waiting and resting, about growth and harvest, about death and resurrection.

Today the weeds sing me their story. “What about this one?” I ask my husband again. He looks up from where he is cleaning out the shed and answers, “It’s only a weed if you don’t want it growing there.”

Huh. I look back at this spindly little plant with its pretty lilac flowers. The way she is spreading over this patch of earth makes me highly suspicious of her origins in the garden. But I like her. I like her tenacity and persistence. I like her daring to bloom where she has been told not to.

I’m learning to let the black and white labels go. It was far easier when I knew the answers—what beliefs were right, what were wrong. Which people were living right, which were definitely living wrong. But God keeps confronting me with beautiful lilac flowers when I expected something ugly and destructive. It’s a thoroughly confusing way to live life, and yet somehow, it’s also simpler. Jesus—who knew a thing or two about gardens—said, “You will know them by their fruits,” and so these days I try and look for the fruit. Where is goodness and love and kindness and compassion? Where is hope and courage and justice and equality?

Many days I’d like the assurance of a marked out plot. I’d like someone to plant me there—how’s that for passive?—and then just do my thing in that space, sure that was where I was meant to be. I’d become like my tulips, predictably popping up in the same spot year after year, blooming for a couple of weeks in loud colours and then fading and disappearing.

Instead, I feel a bit like a trailing little weed. I’m moving from place to place, project to project. My answer to, “So, what do you do?” takes a good half an hour to explain, and probably will be different in a year from now in any case. My faith is shifting, my work is shifting, my little international family is growing and changing. Nothing is certain and everything is confusing.

But I feel myself blooming despite it all. I’m discovering an inner stubbornness that refuses to accept the status quo and finds the alternative rather exciting. I’m taking steps into the unknown and trusting that when Jesus says, “Come and see,” it’s because he’s been there all along. I’m re-reading all the old stories and find myself weeping in the wrong places, but it feels so right.

“You’re not a weed,” I whisper to my little garden interloper, “You’re quite lovely.” And I leave her to enjoy her found patch of sunshine.

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Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen
Fiona lives in London with her Danish husband and her two young children. She is determinedly seeking the sacred in the ordinary, learning to see that even the most mundane moments of her day can be spiritual if she wakes up to the Divine in those places. She is in training to become a Spiritual Director, and baking is her favourite spiritual practice. You can follow her through her blog at fionalynne.com.
Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen
Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen

Latest posts by Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen (see all)

Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen
  • Saskia Wishart

    I love this Fiona. Last year I kept a garden in my friend’s back garden and it gave me so much and taught me about these changing seasons. This year my houseplants will have to do, and I am aching for the feeling of dirt between my fingers and toes. I am hoping by some miracle we get a house with an outside space sometime in the next year. I am resonating with the trailing weed today too. Flowers popping up in the unexpected places.

    • fiona lynne

      Learning more about the seasons and cycles of Nature is one of the things that is saving me right now. Truly. Hoping with you for that patch of dirt to cultivate, and in the meantime, here’s to unexpected blossoms xxx

  • Heather Deeming

    I love this, such a beautiful reflection. What struck me powerfully was the reminder of Jesus’ words: “you will know them by their fruits”. I need to remember that these days.

    • fiona lynne

      Right?? When I went back to find it, I was surprised that it was in the context of “bad” fruit that he said it. That was also a strong reminder for me – in the metaphor, we bear fruit either way, but is is good fruit?… Thanks for being here friend x

  • My gardener’s heart is shouting “yes” to this meditation from the dirt!
    Praying for you right now in the midst of the mess of moving that you will soon begin taking root in your new “found patch of sunshine.”

    • fiona lynne

      Oh thank you, that prayer is perfect for these weeks (10 days to go!)…

  • Annette Silveira

    Oh my gosh! So good. Thank you.

    • fiona lynne

      Thank you for being here, Annette x

  • sandyhay

    Oh what a dangerous woman you’re becoming Fiona 🙂

    • fiona lynne

      I am learning from the best, Sandy! 😉

  • Carolina

    Beautiful reflection. Thank you. Sharing.

    • fiona lynne

      Thank you Carolina x

  • Helene Burns

    ‘But I find myself blooming despite it all’. This is the true beauty of life with Jesus – in spite of all the times that leave us feeling unsettled and unravelled, there is our perfect Gardener doing His beautiful work in the messy in-between. This is such beautiful writing Fiona and I know your words and the imagery you paint will stay with me. Just beautiful….thank you. xoxo

    • fiona lynne

      the perfect Gardener – YES. I love that. Love thinking of Mary in the garden feeling just the most unravelled in that resurrection moment. Thank you, Helen x

  • Beautiful Fiona!! What a timely story as it is the season for all of our beautiful dandelion (“weeds”) amongst others, whom are rising up to the surface petitioning for their claim!! — I remember going through the transformative realization that our common nuisance weeds are not weeds at all…in many cases very healing and medicinal when used properly. In my herbal studies my herbalist guide taught us to refrain from using the words “bad and good” … in regards to plants. It was an interesting process. Is this a bad plant? Is this a good plant? (the black and whites as you mentioned, are so much easier to categorize, to judge, to label, but if we take away those categories what do we have left? Freedom to see something for what it is and free to see the value.) So we practiced looking at all the plants for what they were or who they were; for the contribution they have in creation. — Thank you for your beautiful words. We can learn so much from nature: my favorite church service.

    • fiona lynne

      Oh this just adds a whole new dimension to the conversation, which I LOVE. YES, I had never clicked that the “weeds” are often the useful plants. My friend Kathleen eats dandelions every year (she deep fries them!) and I now always think of that when I see them, these flowers we call a nuisance. And my daughter gets so much DELIGHT from them these days, blowing their seeds and making her nose yellow with their pollen… THANK YOU – you just gave me so much more to ponder over! x

      • Oh lovely, I am glad! … another amazing thing is that dandelions move to areas that need healing. They help to regenerate the soil and after time will move once the soil has reached the appropriate alkalinity. — And of course the amazing benefits for our bodies (I use dandelions in tea). I could go on and on with this topic… maybe I will take the time to write more on it sometime. Much love!! — Oh and one more thing, I thought you would appreciate. Dandelions have a LIONS spirit. and that is something that would take a whole page of words to describe, but it’s nature is fierce and protective and giving. Xx

  • Oh gosh Fiona! SO much wisdom and beauty here. “But God keeps confronting me with beautiful lilac flowers when I expected something ugly and destructive. It’s a thoroughly confusing way to live life, and yet somehow, it’s also simpler.” What a wild journey you are inviting us into – and with gorgeous words too. Praying for you as you prepare for the move and all that comes with it xx

    • fiona lynne

      Thank you, love. It is wild isn’t it?! In all the very best ways…

  • “I like her daring to bloom where she has been told not to.”

    WHEW. What a powerful thought, Fiona. I love your writing, and I love your heart here. You are such a kindred spirit. Keep blooming, friend.

    • fiona lynne

      This line was one of those ones that surprised me when it came out on the page. I think it was the line I needed to hear too. That’s a dangerous little plant there… 😉

      So grateful for you x

  • This is absolutely lovely. Everything about it. Thank you for sharing your garden wisdom. It’s amazing how much the things of earth have to teach us about ourselves and our relationship to God and others. I’m so excited to get into my garden soon. 🙂

    • fiona lynne

      Right?? I am becoming increasingly aware of just how disconnected we are to Nature and how damaging that is for us – on a global scale of course but also a personal physical and spiritual level. I love the excitement I get every spring time now to know I can get back to my gardening!

  • Megan Gahan

    I am in love with this piece . . .it has to be one of my favorite things you’ve written. You weave wisdom and imagery together so seamlessly. This line right here—-> “I’m re-reading all the old stories and find myself weeping in the wrong places, but it feels so right.” Wow. That encapsulates the season so beautifully. Also, bonus marks for using the word “interloper” 😉 Love you tremendously, my friend.

  • “I’m learning to let the black and white labels go.” It’s so refreshing to find we can! I’m pretty sure we were meant to live in vibrant color, anyway.
    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful piece!

  • Your writing is astounding me. I love being on this side of what is being forged in you. Thank you for life-giving words.