The sort-of dreaded day and hour to check the line, fill the tank, poke at the primer bulb, and pull the starter cord arrived this past Tuesday at the farm. I felt a little like a soldier headed for battle as I marched from the serenity of the back porch with the weedeater slung across my shoulder and a red plastic gallon of mixed gas dangling from my hand.
I admit that the day was pitch perfect for weedeating. Overcast, decent humidity, and early enough that the heat-up of the day had yet to commence. So I began. About an hour into the job and in the middle of a particularly tough patch near the barn, I looked down and spotted a single sprig of blue flowers that had pushed its way out of the ankle deep growth of barnyard grass, broadleaf plantain, and bull thistle. Pretty little things, they were a blue somewhere between the sky and my momma's eyes, each bud no bigger than the end of your little finger, and simply bursting with hope and enthusiasm. A virtual oasis of sight upon an otherwise unforgivable terrain.
I failed to mention that one of the perks of weedeating is the ability to put your mind in neutral and let the thoughts flow.
As by something as simple as a tiny bunch of flowers.
And I thought that what I was seeing here in this snapshot moment of time embodied pretty much how I was viewing the world less than 24 hours before. When I had the misfortune to be on Facebook, reading a few of thousands of comments of some totally unforgettable subject or discussion that had caught the interest of nearly everyone. I suppose when I indulge my seedy side, it's like watching a train wreck in slow motion. I simply can't look away. You know what I mean. When half the world is on one side and the other half takes the other side and the bickering builds to all-out verbal atomic warfare.
We are so divided as a nation - as well as a globe - that I sometimes wonder why the sun bothers to rise in the morning. The ugliness! Has mankind always been so hateful and social media has just given us an opportunity to really notice it? Or is this something that we have become over the last several years? I really don't know the answer but I'm talking an exchange of spewing, acidic hatred and evil words and thoughts that I never imagined could, or would, exist.
And it happens all the time.
But that's the weeds: the crabgrass, the hairy bittercress, the Johsongrass, the redroot pigweed. The spewing disdain, the vomitous scorn, the malice and contempt. The weeds that are a real threat to our virtue and our humanity. Humanity that is eons in the making. Virtue that we developed through generation after generation of trial and error.
Choking, smothering, unforgiving weeds.
But that little sprig of blue flowers? That's hope. That's proof that beauty can co-exist among any volume of hate. And proof that the beauty that does co-exist can overcome that hate and stand on its own. Beauty that says, "Hey, look...I'm right here. I'm right here in the middle of any amount of nastiness you can create. I'm God's gift to the world and I will not be ignored! I am here in spite of all else."
And it's true. That splash of beauty in the middle of that jungle of worthless ugliness is the only thing I noticed. And it lifted me up. And it reminded me that the world is what we wish to make it. Like in that long exchange of condemnation and hatred in that Facebook post the day before, someone had posted a simple red heart. An "I love you." No other words...just the emoticon. And it was as effective as that one spurt of blue flowers in the middle of all that stinging nettle. The heart, and not the words that swamped it, was what gave me pause.
As long as just one of us is willing to find the beauty, all of us have a chance.
And, in case any of you are wondering, yes I did. I carefully weedeated around those tiny blue flowers while virtually annihilating into oblivion every last weed in sight. Atoms of green exploding into the atmosphere. Satisfying disintegration of the highest order.
It was a very, very good day.