Dear Inner Circle,

Botanic names have always hit my ears as unintelligible noise. My admiration for gardening guru Costa Georgiadis is profound and yet my brain seems to anticipate any utterance of botanic names with an attitude of, “Caution: this is going to be unintelligible.” To my horror last week at our Sunday gathering, our text likened life to a garden in which there were both fine plants and vigorous weeds. In the metaphor, the weeds aren’t necessarily other people but patterns of behaviour that threaten the health of good plants, stealing the nutrients from the soil.

Finally, the hour had come for me to learn and use some botanic names. I discovered that the weeds referred to in our text have names. “Now see what you made me do” is a common weed. In the years when I was a prison chaplain, I think I saw evidence of this weed every day. This weed thrives when a good plant fears it is destined to fail but cannot and will not face its fear. Instead it looks for an opportunity to fail when there is a lesser plant around that can be blamed for the failure. Another common weed is, “Ah ha! I got you!” This pattern of behaviour causes healthy plants to be fixated on the wrong doing of others. Imagine being short changed by five dollars and then working this wrong doing into every conversation for years to come. This plant can irritate an otherwise healthy plant or it can grow strong and eventually choke a good plant to death. Another common weed is named, “I was only trying to help”. This weed does its work when someone really tries to impose their will on another but never admits their bald desire to impose their will. When there is push back or rebellion, the act of power is confused and camouflaged because, “I was only trying to help”. Another weed we see a lot is called, “Courthouse”. This weed is evidenced when in relationships we have a “judge” an “accused” and a “prosecutor”. I was called once to a home where a man pulled out a copy of his wedding vows and asked me to judge whether this wife had legally adhered to her vows. Countless times in families I’ve seen the roles of “persecutor, rescuer and victim” played out endlessly and where various family members take turns in the various roles. Another common weed flourishes when people believe that intimacy is only possible via some level of deception although they cannot admit to the deception. Relationships are invited and engagement happens but there always comes a point where someone says, “I knew it, men are only interested in one thing” or “women always have a hidden agenda” or many variations on that theme. I think the botanic name for this weed might be, “You used me”.

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