It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
It’s been a few years since I’ve spent so much time in my yard planting flowers, battling hungry rabbits, and weeding. Lots of weeding. I haven’t mulched the backyard flowers yet and it’s almost July. In Kansas.
It wasn’t intentional this no mulching non decision that by default became a decision.
We have had an unusually wet spring and summer on the prairie. Guess what that means? My flowers are lush and plentiful. And? So are the weeds. It’s impressive how fast crabgrass, cockleburr, purselane, and marestail take root. My favorite weeding happens after a rain when the humidity has briefly abated and the soil is wet. It’s so satisfying. Almost like popping a pimple. I pinch the weed at its base and pull. And the roots give up without the friction of dry ground and easily slip out.
Weeding grounds me.
Bare knees rubbing against earth.
Outside of the liturgy of the Eucharist at an occasional Sunday Mass, I don’t find myself kneeling very often.
In fact I spend a lot of money and time in order to not weed….to not pay attention.
It’s all under the noble goal of trying to make more time or to use it more efficiently or more creatively. So many choices! I can automate my food by ordering from Blue Apron or Home Chef. I can sign up for Prime Pantry and set up automatic ordering of laundry detergent so I don’t run out. The emails from the car dealership telling me it’s time for my oil change and tire rotation. The text from the doctor’s office reminds me when my appointment is. When I plug in an address to GPS I trust it to take me where I need to be. I don’t take responsibility for my own wayfinding.
I’m busy. A single mom. I work three different jobs so I can pay to not pay attention.
The mulch is one of those things. When I have the beds mulched, I don’t have as many weeds. I may not need to water as often, but I also don’t pay as much attention to my flowers. I’m not down on my knees every few days inspecting the new growth. Deciding what stays or goes. When I miss a few days and I’m shocked by the overgrowth. Where the hell did that dandelion come from? How did it happen so quickly?
Where have I been?
W H E R E H A V E I B E E N ?
Like Mary Oliver says, it doesn’t matter what we attend to, but just do it. And we will find our attention is a doorway into gratitude. And in being present we open up to silence and the possibility for another voice, some deeper hungry part of ourselves that has been patiently waiting on us to give her some space, to speak up.
This is how I attempt to slow time: Get down on my knees, deep in the weeds of my flowerbeds, and pay attention.