Posted by: Peadar Ban | April 10, 2012

In The Garden

I began in March, sometime during the Fourth Week of Lent, the weather being warm enough for the work, the ground soft enough for the work, things ready for the work, me along with them after waiting for at least a month to start.  I began by walking and looking  to see what needed doing, seeing what hadn’t been done, seeing what was falling into a kind of ruin and un-pretty riot.  There was a lot of that, things wrapped around things, invasions and uprootings, undiscipline and, in some places, a kind of disordered ugliness, unplanned and unwanted.

With clouds moving in, and a blustery wind picking up I assembled my tools and bent to the work, cutting and digging, raking and pruning; pruning away dead wood, digging up roots and weeds, invaders and usurpers; establishing borders, restoring order, removing stones.  The first day after I finished I gathered the waste and removed it discarding it in the pit to rot and die.

Over the course of the next two weeks I bent and cut, raked and dug.  Grass was the most troublesome.  Its roots go everywhere and they insinuate, twisting and  twining about everything good that was beginning to grow.  They were deep and tenacious.  I have learned not to like grass in these places, which may look so pretty in other places.  The weeds, too, have roots which are deep and hardened in their places; hidden in the flower beds, tucked under the roots of the bushes, invading the irises, the day lilies.  Sometimes I had to lift whole plants and un-tangle the roots of the weeds, washing the dirt away so I could know which roots were weeds, which were good plants, and then re-plant the flowers in their beds.

During Holy Week I hadn’t so much time for the work as I had had.  I wanted to finish, to clean and prepare at least what was out in front for the Feast and our guests.  Our Weeping Cherry was in full bloom.  It still is, its long ropes of blossoms swaying in the wind.  Bulbs and tiny flowers lined the walk to our door.  I had done my best, but there is still much more to do.

I know this about weeds and grass, and their roots.  They will not leave, but have gone down and hidden deep.  They will return.  But, I will watch, and do for the flowers and the shrubs what they aren’t able to do themselves; patrol and pick out and destroy what destroys the beauty of the place for me and for all to see.


It was early in the morning; still gray outside the east facing window of my bedroom on Easter Monday.  I wasn’t fully awake, but was awake enough to think, to debate, about rising or trying for another half hour of “sack time” as my father used to call it.  It was that time between “is and seem”; when time appears not to pass at all and consciousness and dream mix and mingle easily.

Sleep won the short debate, and I huddled down into the warm covers listening to the faint sounds of waking birds outside and the fainter soft breathing of my wife just beside me.  It was only the day after Easter, but it was a kind of lifetime ago.

This happened…

On the way back down into sleep I began to get a series of flashback like thoughts, scenes, memories.  Passing before me were moments of actions and activities which were not at all the kind of thing conducive to peaceful slumber.  The truth, in other words, was what I was flipping through, or perhaps what I was being shown.  I know I did not initiate anything.  I was just an audience of one.  I wondered why.

Of this I am sure, some of the thoughts, the pictures were of things that had happened long ago.  Some of them were more recent, as recent as yesterday.  And, some of them involved nothing more than my thoughts, my private opinions.  They arose in connection with all of these other “memories”.  Frankly, they surprised me as they “passed in review” that they should be there, too.  But, there they were.

As this continued, I began to tell them to go, to simply leave me, these memories.  I called them by name, trash, garbage, filth, worthlessness, lies…sin…and was angry with them, and ashamed of myself.  I ordered them and the “me” that had done those things out of me.

And, this began to happen…

They did not leave.  No.  I found myself as if suspended in a void, darkness all around me.  I got the sense of being above and looking into a dark and bottomless waste.  As I looked, I could see tangles of things, like weeds, and snakes and worms being pulled out of me.  They fell, almost forever, and disappeared into the darkness below.  As I named and rejected these things they were pulled out of me, and were let go, and they fell into darkness.  I watched them fall, shriveling as they fell, and disappear from sight.  As this went on, I began to feel lighter and filled with peace and joy.  I also had the sense I was not alone.


I started to awaken, and to think about what was happening.  My thought turned to my own work in the garden these past few weeks and what I had been doing, pulling out weeds, tearing up noxious and nasty plants by their roots and throwing them away.  It was then that I connected the events outside with the event inside.

This was a gift, I now know. I realized very clearly that I had been paid a visit by a Gardener who had cleansed me of what had been growing in me, my spiritual weeds.  And, I wanted that to continue.  Here is a truth I learned in the moments I awakened from that experience.  As I grew more conscious, more rational you might say, I knew that what had been done for me was for His own pleasure in me as much as it was for my own health and well being.

Now smiling as I write I know how long I have lived thinking differently about this very thing.  Thinking that it’s all up to me.  It is, you know, in a sense.  The roots are deep, and I will watch and call for the help that I know will come.

Some fragments are left, and they will try to grow, to put out new shoots, new weeds and riotous things.  I have the Gardener’s eye on me, though. And, the memory of the sight of those others dropping into darkness, disappearing as if they were never there at all.  Soon, none will be left, and I will be as I was meant to be.

I was fully awake and realized the last part of the gift. I know what it means to want to be pleasing to God, simply so that He may take pleasure in me.  Knowing that gives me, somehow, great joy, and a sense of purpose, a reason.


  1. Years ago, I read in a good study of the nature of gardens, that weeds are the result of human activity. One rarely finds them in woods; but they are common alongside highways and roads.
    The sack time is an ntersting illustration of Einstein’s relativity. Glance at the clock and decide that one can take another 15 minutes. Then what seems to be 5 minutes has used up the 15 minutes.

  2. Thanks for the dream, I relate to it well.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I relate well to your experience.


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