Along most highways, byways, and country roads, one can notice an amazing variety of flowers and grasses. Among the flowers are rabbit’s foot clover, curly dock, mullein, daises, crown vetch, to name just a few. Among the grasses are timothy, bluegrass, brome, reedgrass, some of the many.
Generally we pass by thinking, Those Are Just Weeds. What if we took a closer look and discover that the flowers and seeds are magnificent pieces of architecture, some with hidden medicinal qualities, others with edible parts.
The “weeds” name seems to have a castoff, negative, not worthwhile message.
A different perspective about weeds may invite a closer look at how we often identify people, putting them in a category, labeling with some word, often also with limiting messages. The “Just weeds” about people may be, oh, they are just cranky neighbors, they are just lazy people, they are pretty worthless, they just seem to always look for handouts, they just seem to have no care, etc. etc.
What if I took a closer look at each of the people I meet with an openness to see, perceive and acknowledge who they are as a whole person with dignity?
What if I took the time to notice what also is true of them, to engage with them to discover the hidden beauty, the gift they may have to offer?
What if we would discover that they are searching to find a way to feed a family, seeking to be noticed as someone recently unemployed, hoping to find a place to live, recovering from a major struggle, actually homeless and alone?
There is more and more evidence published that indicates that getting to know a “category” person as a person leads to greater understanding, acceptance and appreciation.
Who are the persons each of us labels, puts in categories? How might noticing beauty in the “Just Weeds” lead us to notice qualities and beauty of all people?
Footnote: The afternoon after I wrote this, the NCR newspaper arrived which has a section for reflections on the various Sunday Scripture readings. Sunday, July 23rd, our Gospel happens to be the story of the Weeds and Wheat!!! The person offering the reflection has this as the starting sentence, “Were there weeds in the Garden of Eden? The day I heard there is such a thing as a dandelion wine I started to question to either/or category of plants as good or weeds. Who are we to judge?” (Mary McGlone)