Thistle at Cathedral Ridge
The thistle is considered a terrible weed in agriculture. In England, where frowning on things has been raised to an art form, the thistle is considered a sign of poor land use and care. It is a weed and it is hard to eradicate.
But it has many medicinal qualities and was often cited during the plagues of Europe as a soothing tonic to the symptoms. It is not well spoken of in Shakespeare neither in the Bible. But if the thorns are crushed, the plant is great food for goats which, in turn are great food in curry.
We ,live our lives trying to label everything “good” and “bad” and yet when I look at the people I admire, they seem to have lived lives which were not so focused on these labels. Thomas Merton was notorious for disobedience in ecclesial systems, Mother Theresa was less than gentle – even, we now know, with God. Saint Francis was not the meek and mild creature we see over-sentimentalized in sculpture and paintings. Nor Jesus, for that matter.
I guess I am wondering if this sanitized life we are all trying to live is really spiritual or if it is simply religious. It is a slippery slope to say so, but I wonder if we were a little less judgmental about ourselves if we would be less judgmental about others and then, if we would be more willing for the thistles of our lives to be bright and nutritious even if a little imperfect.