“A good garden may have some weeds.”
— Thomas Fuller
Occasionally, a horrible weed grows in your garden. That weed can spring up unexpectedly in your neighbor’s garden as well.
I was in a good mood as I turned onto our street after Saturday’s Teamworks volunteering. Pulling in, I saw our neighbor sweating and suffering while mowing his lawn so I thought I’d pull over and ask why his son wasn’t doing it.
Instead of telling me about how unreliable teenagers are as I expected, he told me his wife and children were still back in China, and he had just returned to go to work. “My father passed away unexpectedly,” he said in a somber voice. “The doctors said that it was a blood cancer. He was gone within two weeks.”
I listened as my neighbor talked about getting to say goodbye to his father one last time and how his father had enjoyed his sole trip to the United States, when I had the good fortune to meet him.
I remember this gray-haired man practicing tai chi in the front lawn one summer several years ago. Back then, even though he didn’t speak one word of English, we were able to communicate through smiles and “Nee how”.
As the conversation through the car window, and through cultures, wound down I saw how much he was sweating. He had a terrible weed patch in his arbor vitae bushes, so I asked if I could help with his yard work by cleaning up that patch the next morning. He said it was ok.
“Wear gloves,” he added. “The weeds hurt.”
Yes, the weeds in the garden of life do hurt, and they aren’t always able to be pulled. So we have to work around them gently so as not to cause too much pain.
In the meantime, even if there are weeds in our garden, we can still help our neighbors by listening or giving them a little time, like pulling weeds. By helping them in their time of need, maybe we take away some of their hurt.
Yesterday’s gift of time … Pulled some weeds out of my neighbor’s lawn. I hope it helps ease the pain.