This post is part 2 of Lettuce and Oxalis.
As I reached in to weed out the oxalis from amongst the lettuce seedlings, I was mindful of the history of how both of these plant species came to be together in this particular patch of dirt. Oxalis comes up every year (about this time) from a tuber-like structure that remains persistent in the soil for years, it seems. In contrast, the lettuce seedlings are there because I spread their seeds into that place about eight weeks ago. I very intentionally harvested the seed heads from the parental plant (which had grown successfully over the summer, adapted to the soil and yielded food and seed) and planted them in the well-prepared earth. The seeds were covered with the right amount of soil and watered whenever they needed more moisture. We had a dry, warm Autumn in Melbourne this year so these lettuce seedlings needed lots of attentive oversight to prevent them from withering after germination.
While carefully weeding out the oxalis, I became aware of the parable we were acting out in this mundane domestic activity. If oxalis is not weeded out with care, some of the tubers break off and remain in the soil ensuring greater numbers of the weed the following year. And, because the lettuce crop and the weeds were so entwined, intricacy was needed to ensure that the lettuce was not weeded out with the oxalis. Thank God (and evolution) for our opposing digit, the humble thumb!
What can this allegory teach us? Well, firstly, if the lettuce seedlings symbolize true beliefs about who God/dess is, sometimes they are quite fragile. In their infancy, they can be damaged or ‘pulled-up’ before reaching maturity. Understandings about the character of Creator, such as, ‘God is love’, ‘God is good’, ‘God is merciful’, ‘God is just’, ‘God is tender’, ‘God is faithful’, can fail to take root in our lives. If these truths are not protected by ourselves, others, life, and/or the world around us, they can be lost to us before they become bedrock in us. They can be smothered or starved by the competing ‘weeds’ and wither from our experience and understanding if we cannot find groups/churches that nourish these truths in us.
Oxalis can be used to symbolize the lies (or untruths) we believe about the nature of the Divine being. Some of these beliefs are rooted back in our childhood and have persisted for a very long time, like tubers lying dormant in the soil. We may think we have weeded them out but they keep returning into our psyche each year or every other year. These beliefs may include ‘God is male’, ‘God is mean’, ‘God doesn’t listen to our prayers’, ‘God is a superhero’, ‘God wants to punish me’, ‘God doesn’t care about human/animal suffering’, etc etc. The list could go on and on, sadly enough. But, we are onto these lies. We can become aware of the beliefs we have about God/dess (and about ourselves/each other) that are simply not true. These ‘weeds’ can be removed from our lives (roots, tubers and all) and, when they are, correct beliefs about the Divine being and how S/He relates to us can begin to flourish.
Sacred writings, theological books, healthy churches, spiritual friends, meditation, being in nature, and loving ourselves will all help us with this journey.
Who knows, God/dess may also give us a hand!?!