A Lesson from the Weed(s)

Just back from nearly a week’s stay at the silent-meditation-retreat-center-still-under-construction.

By 6:30 yesterday morning, I was again out at the site, alone with the birds, crickets and misty fog, ready to follow the winding path of the labyrinth. At its entrance, I bent down to pick up one of the smooth pale pink stones that Patricia supplied – to experiment with, as a possible replacement for the limestones bordering the circuits – and held it tight as I clasped my hands together in prayer.

I intentionally paced myself slowly, which is why it must have taken close to one hour for me to complete the walk from entry to exit. I walked to connect to the earth, paying attention to my breath, to the lifting, deliberate placing & swaying motions of each one of my feet.

As I circled at a snail’s pace, I noticed many insects on the path and fluttering all around me: grasshoppers, crickets, dragonflies, spiders, ants, worms, mosquitoes, bees and butterflies. Large leaves tumbled from the jungle patches nearby, rustling in the wind.

As I stepped off the more-or-less well-trodden path of grass, walking along and closer to the edge of each circuit, I noticed that the grass was firmer and the swirling texture of each clump tingled the soles of my feet.

And then I noticed something I’d never seen before on this path: a single mushroom standing tall, smack in the middle of the path. It must have popped up overnight, as I’d been weeding a couple of days with no sight of it before. The mycellium, standing solo and surrounded by lesser-sized creatures, seemed to be making a point: Here I am… and I’m kinda pretty, aren’t I? So what are you going to do about me? Of course, I left the ‘shroom exactly where it was.

I continued along the path, pressing on even when a stray weed would suddenly catch my attention, tempting me to kneel and pull it out. And here’s another one, and there yet another. I was determined not to let the weeds rankle me, tease me, set me off my purposeful walk.

And yet, a thought settled into my mind-scape: these weeds, in so many guises, are rearing their leaves, stems and buds with such tenacity and breadth as if they were so many undesirable creatures messing up my path. Just like the challenges and difficult people that dot the landscape of my life’s journey. They too appear with regularity, sometimes bearing flowers – which turn out on closer inspection to be weeds, or presenting issues that I would prefer to brush out of view instead of facing or turning into an encounter.

I managed to complete my labyrinth walk without grabbing at a single weed, without any rearranging, without pushing back into place a single limestone that had tumbled out of place. I simply meandered through that patch of nature, was grateful for its quiet and calming presence and picked up a few lessons of life on the way instead.


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