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Weed or Not to Weed
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By Helena Smrcek

I vividly remember sowing spinach into my cold frame. I was happy when the first signs of green appeared. Watering my baby plants every morning, I waited for them to grow, hoping to snip a few leaves, and present my family with a home-grown spinach salad.

As my botanical marvels strengthened I noted that the plentiful little leaves fail to resemble the picture on the seed packet. Strangely, they looked very much like the tall weeds we fought last summer atop our manure pile.

And here comes my question: How come weeds grow without planting, care, or watering (accept the ones in my cold frame), and yet make it through all weather extremes, bugs, and ever-hungry critters. Surveying my growing bounty, I tried to pull a few leaves. A spinach plant came out. Mathew, specifically the 13th chapter, came to mind; the wise field owner, faced with the same problem, instructed his servants not to pull the weeds, for they would destroy the harvest. I wished for servants, and resisted the urge to pluck everything out.

In about a week I carefully inspected my current weed infestation, and realized that if I didn’t take action, the weeds would completely choke out the spinach. Upon close examination, I saw the rows of young spinach plants in the sea of weeds. Soaking the ground, I focused on carefully freeing my future salad from the invaders, thankful that I don’t have an entire field to deal with.

The tedious task offered plenty of contemplation time. Cec Murphey, my mentor and dear friend came to mind. Tired of weeding, I could clearly hear his words in my mind: “You can’t do everything.” Of course, when he first said this to me, a few years ago, I didn’t believe him. Cec, in his 80’s, published over 130 books, and is currently working on a few projects, while developing a screen play, and running most mornings.

Back then, “You can’t do everything,” became more of a challenge than advice. Yet, as the years went on, I realized I had to let go of many ‘weeds’ in my life, if I was to ever enjoy a true harvest. Cec was right. I couldn’t do everything, and stay healthy, happy, while focusing on my life’s mission. I began to examine my daily activities and ask: “Why am I doing this?” I disciplined myself to honestly answer, and then decide: spinach or weed.

Idle TV watching, unnecessary meetings, fruitless discussions, negative people, unplanned trips to the store, underperforming business, our teens’ laundry, storage room items, extra clothes in my closet—as I worked along the length of my cold frame, the rows of spinach leaves became clearly visible. Freed, they basked in the sun, feeding on the richness of the soil.

I served sautéed spinach last night, and no one asked; “Where are the weeds?” My family enjoyed the delicious, nutritional wholeness; blessing to me, but most importantly, blessing to them.