As a child I loved the highlight of summer, which was the school holidays, but I loathed the curse of summer, which was the gardening.
Now, in so-called adulthood, I still find the rampant growing of things to be somewhat tiresome. My horticultural failings were cruelly brought home to me a few weeks ago when, sitting side by side out the back, my six-year-old son said: ‘Well Daddy, at least the weeds make our garden look quite colourful.’
Our household is one in which, if the kids go to bed alive and relatively uninjured by nightfall, we feel the day has gone well. Weeding, washing up, tidying away toys and polishing the garden gnomes come a long way down our list (anyway, it gives the grandparents something to do).
If we cared to we could draw comparisons with the gardens around and about and beat ourselves up for letting the side down. Or we could appreciate the variety of colour that our weeds provide for us, with no effort whatsoever.
There are times when we look at our lives and judge ourselves harshly: not as good, generous or godly as those around us. But if we take a step back, recognising all that we have to cope with day to day, maybe we can start to see, not just ugly weeds, but a mix of colour that is unique, interesting and rich in its own way.
Surely, when God surveyed the variety of plant life at the beginning, daffodils and dandelions, dahlias and daisies, roses and ragwort were all included in the verdict that it was good.
God’s love isn’t reserved for perfect, pristine, prize-winning souls. God takes us as we are and sees, not just weeds, but a riot of colour.
In Jesus we learn that God is love, and that we are valued, enjoyed and accepted for who we are. And, since God should know, maybe we can be a little bit gentler on ourselves, enjoy the sense of being loved, and try to focus on things that really matter.
By Rev Mark Niblock