I’m amazed by the resilience of weeds. They emerge in the most inhospitable of places, like the small spaces of sidewalk cracks and the treacherous terrain of cliff faces. They persist during times of drought, and they spread out their leaves during times of plentiful rain. Weeds can be any kind of plant, too. All that’s required is that they grow in a place where they aren’t wanted.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines a weed as “a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth especially: one that tends to overgrow or choke out more desirable plants.” All it takes to be a weed is to grow where you aren’t valued. The more you grow and persist, the weedier you are.
On a recent fall morning, I pulled my car into a parking lot. I got out of my car and walked across the concrete, my feet crunching over the fall leaves scattered here and there. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a brilliant pop of gold on a black background. Instinctively, I turned to look, and I saw rogue sunflowers pushing up through the parking lot.
I walked toward the sunflowers to get a closer look. I crouched down to admire their vibrant flowers, and I laughed to myself about how strong they must be to grow with so little soil. They grew even with the the warmth of the sun on the concrete. They persisted in this barren place, and I felt a little swell of gratitude for the shop owners who allowed theses unintended flowers to grow. Maybe they just hadn’t gotten around to taking care of their weeds. And if that was the case, I was thankful for their procrastination.
Don’t get me wrong. I also know the downside of weeds. I am fighting a losing battle with bindweed in my yard. No matter how often I mow it, pull it, smother it with mulch, or take it down with the weed whacker, it comes back more aggressively than before. I’ve watched woodbine return after Jeff dug out what we thought was the entire root system. I’ve dragged in more spiky goatheads on my shoes than I can count after mowing my lawn. Weeds can be a real pain.
But, isn’t it amazing the way they persist? Isn’t it inspiring the way they aren’t constrained by particular growing conditions? I’m sure I don’t discourage the bindweed from overtaking my yard when I look at it and smile at the way it can’t be reined in, but I can’t help myself. I’m impressed by its tenacity.
My grandma has a planter in her yard that she used to fill with petunias every year. A few years ago, she stopped putting plants in it because the bricks were beginning to crumble. And yet, year after year, that planter abounds with petunias. In this particular case, the weeds are beautiful, but even if they weren’t, wouldn’t it still be amazing at the way they can’t be deterred? I have a lot to learn from weeds.
May we develop the persistence of weeds–
the courage to stretch out and grow
even when the world around us isn’t quite ready for us.
Let us emerge with confidence
and hold our sunflower-heads high
in this inhospitable landscape
so desperately in need of the beauty