My sister and I got into a bit of a debate on whether dandelions are flowers or weeds. She contended that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, to paraphrase. I maintain that it's not, when it comes to dandelions. They are weeds, not flowers. And so we are at an impasse, and thankfully not each other's neighbour.
This weekend's Gospel, "I am the vine, you are the branches" and my own untidy front lawn had me thinking about how easily weeds can creep into our lives; sometimes out of neglect. Sometimes they've taken hold and it's just too hard to remove them; just too much work. Other times, the worst of times, is when we rationalize and accept. "They're not weeds, they're flowers."
No they're not. No they're not. No they're not. That's how weeds and sins take hold - they come looking innocuous and flowering.
A gardening enthusiast gave me some advice on how to beat the dandelion infestation, and it's good advice on how to beat the sin and apathy and rationalization infestation that keeps us from a nice lawn and a clean concious.
He says, when you pull the dandelion out, using the proper tools and all the way to the root, you must immediately fill the hole with grass seed. He contends that if you don't, something will grow in that spot and it'll be more weeds, bigger weeds.
The same is true of our bad and sinful habits. Yank them out using the proper implements, like prayer and confession, retreats and praying over the scriptures, the works of the spiritual masters (and not one of the modern dandelions masquerading as spirituality). But unless we fill the hole that's left behind with prayer and good works and a closeness to God, our sins and bad habits grow back even stronger.
We can't do this alone. Fortunately we don't have to. We are in God's garden.