Recently, in an art gallery in Detroit, I visited an exhibit of pottery. It was of white porcelain and minimalist in nature. Every few feet there was a small shelf with three small pots on it and the wall was covered in this Victorian wallpaper which I found considerably more engaging. So I stood there pondering it for a while and something occurred to me as I meditated on the paper.
First, of course all I saw were the flowers. There was a four section repeat pattern to the paper’s woodblock and the two sets of white along with the tulips, red sunflowers and blue smaller flowers took up most of the pattern. There was one spent tulip with a frosted flower and there we have it. Flowers.
And then it occurred to me that I was seeing something else. A dandelion leaf. It elegantly wove its jagged-leafed way through the scene like a snake in a story about the first man and woman or like a line of cream-foam in a cappuccino. Or both.
In the garden of my life, I notice the same thing. There are some lovely flowers, usually one dying – as they do – and then there are large weeds. It would be easy to lunge for them like a dowager empress trying to gingerly pull a hair form a guest’s soup as it is on its way to the table. But perhaps our weeds are just fine where they are. Perhaps our weeds teach us something about life and its imperfections and instability – things we do not like, but needful things all the same.
It used to be that when I saw a weakness, or a painful relationship or a hard experience, that I would lunge for it, to pluck it out. Now, if it is causing no real harm to me or others, I simply bow to it – present as it is in the garden of my life – and ask myself what it is there to teach me.