Lent – March
I endeavor to pull the weeds up from their roots. One by one, I dig my hands into the dirt and tug, slowly releasing the green stems from their tenuous earthen hold. Spring has certainly imposed its way through the desert floor, literally pushing its straggly blossoms through the rocks that decorate our yard and around the carefully cultivated cacti placed in and among the paths of strategic landscaping.
Honestly, weeding seems an exercise in futility. With patience and time, the soaring temperatures over the next few months will force this raw vegetation into submission. The little suckers will literally turn brown and recede back to where they came from! Yet, we must “cultivate our garden,” I muse – thinking of Candideand remembering my literature classes from high school. “I am pretty sure Voltaire was being sarcastic,” I mutter.
“What did you say,” my husband asks. He is near me, bent low, and as intent as I in picking each and every weed in our path.
“Just thinking out loud,” I respond.
We are mostly quiet in our pursuit to rid the backyard of the invading sprouts. Some of the weeds test me with yellow and purple flowers that have crowned their sticky, thorny stems. Do I pull them or leave them? There is something hypnotic about this chore. My focus is on such a small territory. It is quiet in the afternoon heat and despite the tension in the back of my thighs, I feel other emotionally stressed muscles giving in to the work at hand. The sun casts it rays on my shoulders, and I feel embraced in the warmth. My mind (already distracted by quotes from classic literature) drifts to metaphors about weeding, sorting the wheat from the chaff, spring cleaning…and Lent.
Principal’s Ponderings – Weeds or Wildflowers
Are those weeds or wildflowers? When spring blooms across our Sonoran desert, I marvel at the sash of yellow blossoms that carpet the landscape. Upon closer look though, I also begin to notice the weeds. My yard is filled with them.
As a result of an unusually rainy (and snowy!) winter, the earth has unleashed millions of dormant seeds and has empowered them to push through the crusty soil as they strive to reach inch by inch toward their source of light and warmth.
The visual image of flowers and weeds is a great metaphor for Lent. After all, we are given these weeks before Easter as an opportunity to “weed our gardens,” to clear away what holds us back from reaching our own source of light.
Students – especially during this time of the school year – struggle with the parts of their routines that potentially stymie their personal growth. Their “weeds” tend to stem from not managing their time effectively, forgetting to turn in assignments, getting caught up in social issues, and becoming so mired in the day-to-day that they forget they are working toward good, solid goals that will launch them into their futures. Over the years, I cannot count the number of students who have asked me questions like these: “So, how is this going to help me? Why do I have to even go to school? I can still work if I don’t graduate, right? What is the purpose?”
Don’t we all ask questions like this? As adults, we think we must have all the answers even when we don’t. Instead of ignoring the questions students ask about the reasons they have to be in school, I encourage parents and teachers to draw upon our own experiences and help students discover that this time of curiosity and growth in their lives is truly worthwhile. In lieu of answering the questions for them, I challenge students to venture their own responses. The inspiration to cultivate their lives will come from those who support them, but they begin to realize that much of the “gardening” has to be done by themselves, and that this requires self-discipline and hard work. They ultimately learn that much of their growth includes the flowers and the weeds.