This is my other garden – the Cedar Ridge Community Farm, where what we grow is given to local people who are hungry. I went out today to spend a couple of hours weeding. The peas are up, and looking good, but surrounded on all sides by a soft green scuff of weeds. I took a shuffle hoe and began to clean the rows.
It was hard work. At first, it was just work. Then it began to feel like labor. Then my back began to ache, and I began to feel sorry for myself. And that was before it started to rain.
So I began to talk to myself, or maybe to God. I told myself (or maybe God) that I knew I really didn’t have cause to complain, as I was hoeing for fun and to do a little good, and not because those peas would be expected to feed my hungry child, although he does love peas. And as I gave myself (or maybe God) a good talking to, I began to believe what I was saying, and ended up enjoying the hour or so by myself in the garden.
I did spend some time thinking about the book I am reading, by pastor/writer/pop theologian Rob Bell, where he basically says that the Bible (both Hebrew and Christian portions) is series of stories of liberation from oppression, and of God always, always coming in on the side of the oppressed. And at the point I got to in the book last night, Bell was essentially saying that we are, at this point in history, the oppressors. Which is of course true. And so I hoed, and hoped that by hoeing I could liberate myself from oppressing. It is a fairly ugly mantle to wear, but I am quite sure we don’t have to wear it. We can change. Can one wear a mantle while hoeing, anyway?
At the end of my conversation with myself (or maybe God) I had hoed three rows, and I was done. Before and after:
I leave it to you to draw any moral conclusions you like. I was just happy to liberate a few peas from their weedy oppressors.