Sunday, August 09, 2009

Parking spaces and bermuda grass

There are few things more precious in Texas during August than a parking spot in the shade.  It means some relief from the horrid heat when re-entering the car after some time outside.  So, when I pulled into a parking lot recently and saw that it looked like there might be a hint of shade in one empty parking spot, I was delighted.  What good luck!

However, when I reached the spot, I discovered that the car already there had deliberately parked over the line in order to maximize the shade for his/her car.  In other words, he/she had taken two spaces and hogged the available shade.  

Now, I understand the desire for a shady spot--after all, I was delighted to think that there was one for me.  But to take up two spots and not even share the shade with someone else?  To take all the blessing to oneself and not leave any for another?  It seems like such a selfish act.  What's the problem here?

This event came on the heels of several hours spent in a flower bed where I had let the weeds take over.  Between the heat, and an unusually heavy summer schedule, I had neglected to keep on top of them.  So, when I finally decided I couldn't stand it any longer, I began to tackle what I knew would be at least 12 to 15 hours of hard work getting it cleaned out again.

Most of the problem was bermuda grass--wonderful for the yards, horrible for flower beds.  It's invasive and persistent and nearly impossible to eliminate.  As I dug down, working on the deep roots with their almost impossible to break hold on the dirt around them, I had to consider the nature of bad habits that get as entrenched in our lives as this bermuda grass is in the wrong spots of the yard. 

I believe it is possible to become so used to our destructive habits that living that way becomes normal rather than abnormal.  I suggest that the person who needed the two spaces for the shade (and it was a compact car, by the way) may be so used to thinking, "I'm going to get what I want when I want it and don't care whether anyone else gets anything at all" that it never occurred to him or her that there might be another way, a way that would lead to greater freedom and beauty in life.  Selfishness works that way. Like bermuda grass, it is invasive and persistent and nearly impossible to eliminate.  All children go through a period of being very selfish.  All loving and competent parents and care-givers work hard to help children learn that persistent selfishness leads to a very lonely and unhappy life and that joy comes from giving, not grabbing.  

Bermuda grass has it's very useful place.  Healthy care of the self--a way of being "self"-ish that leads to good health and balanced life also has a very useful place.  Either one of them out of place or out of control cause significant problems.  I'm just reminded on this hot August day that I need to watch for the persistent, invasive sins that can so easily take over without constant attention to the larger picture which calls for a repentant heart ready at all times to be receptive to cleansing grace.

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