Last weekend I participated in a retreat where part of the agenda was “conscious work”  – to focus on what we were doing while we were doing it. There was a beautiful organic garden to be weeded and the day was lovely so the activity was very pleasant. In the evening, however, as we were reviewing the day, some people mentioned the difficulty of pulling up the weeds – not because they were difficult to wrest from the soil but because in some cases it was difficult to tell the weeds from the growing plants. More common, though, was the feeling of distress that people experienced at pulling up what mostly looked like tall, lovely grass. It felt violent to them and unnecessary. (These folks were weeding a pumpkin patch so the non-pumpkins were easy to spot.)

In today’s gospel parable (MT 13:24-30) an enemy enters a farmer’s field and sows weeds among the wheat. When they appear, the workers want to pull the weeds but the harvest master advises that they be left to grow alongside the wheat, lest the wheat be pulled up with the weeds. The distinction and separation could wait until harvest time.

Once again we have a lesson about judgment. There is the potential in all of us to become the best of what God has created us to be, but sometimes we get sidetracked and it takes awhile for us to get back on the path. A great adage for ourselves and others is “Trust in the slow work of God.” Being in the company of those who are growing straight and tall and beautiful helps those of us who have been stunted – sometimes by standing in their shade and drawing comfort at other times from their light. It is not our duty to truncate the lives of the wayward ones but rather to act in love toward them and leave to God, the Harvest Master, the ultimate decision about their fate.