Okay, I know that I am supposed to honor God’s creation and find the good in all its magnificence, but, really….KUDZU? Must I really?
You see, I am a city gardener. I have, maybe a 4 ft x 10 ft garden in which to grow my few flowers. If our continuing 98 degree plus heat wave is not enough of a complication, I have a never-ending infestation of kudzu vine. While my hydrangea and my roses and even my Dianthus wither under the scorching and seemingly ever-increasing heat, my unrequested forest of kudzu thrives.
In am thinking about this because of, well, three reasons: first, my friend Harold’s “Kingdom Parable” today in church, which you should be able to read on the Calvary DC blog tomorrow; second, because of Pastor Amy’s sermon on the parable of the seed in Mark 4; and, well, because a little while ago I was standing outside in my garden thinking about both of these things and cursing the kudzu vine as I ripped its little roots out of the ground.
Kudzu, for anyone who doesn’t know, is an invasive exotic plant that came from I don’t know where. Allowed to thrive, in no time it all, it will weave its tendrils together and create a kind of house over any plant at all — a rose bush, a tree, a daisy–whatever it can cover and smother. And, it is prolific. Most nights, when I have a chance to go outside after there is shade in the garden, I try to pull whatever vines I can reach easily and most nights, that is enough to keep the barbarian horde at bay. But, because of the combination of my class and the heat wave last week, I hadn’t made any attempt to restore garden order since last Sunday when I took the trash to the curb. The encroachment of the hated vine was amazing — I had to go and get a fresh trash bag just to dispose of what I was able to pull in 10 minutes work.
And because of that moment of vine pulling, I just can’t resist continuing today’s talk of gardens and seeds as a parable of the Kingdom of Heaven. My friend Harold talked about the “bugs” in the garden — envy, anger, fear….I want to extend that comparison to talk about kudzu in the garden (sorry, I know that really sounds like the name of a really bad Christian rock band) — just as kudzu in my real garden can shield a plant from light and air, and eventually cause its death, it seems to me that there are so many things around us that prevent us from seeing and experiencing the Kingdom of God which is at hand. Yes, the same envy, anger and fear that Harold talked about, but also the many things that we use to blind ourselves — a sense of superiority, a lack of understanding, a lack of empathy, a lack of caring, a failure to listen — all of these things blind us and render us deaf to the call and beauty of the Kingdom. These things, which not only separate us from the Kingdom but from our fellow inhabitants of this planet and from the needs of the planet itself, these things are as deadly to our hope and to our future and to our faith as that kudzu grass is to my favorite salmon-pink rose bush. And those things about our human condition are as difficult to remove from our Kingdom’s garden as that silly vine is from my tiny garden patch.
But another garden season will come and go, and I will still fight the good fight against kudzu. And another day and another season will come and go, and I will continue to do everything to remove the weeds in my Kingdom garden, so that I may thrive and bloom and grow.
Watch out, kudzu. Here I come…