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bountiful Bee Balm

I need to eliminate my monarda.

Wait, that’s not exactly accurate. I WANT to eliminate my monarda.

No, wait again.  If I don’t eliminate my monarda, I’ll be sorry.

I was happy to plant it, seventeen or so years ago, when I was first putting in the perennial border garden. I was digging up whatever looked like a flower struggling to survive in the overgrowth that was the yard at that time. We had just moved into our old farmhouse, vacant for the past decade, and I was trying to make sense of what I found growing under the tangle and trying to create order from the chaos.  I adore the scent and the burst of pure passion of these firework flowers.  I carefully transplanted a small clump and nursed it to vitality, adding more and more perennials to my new garden. Most of the plants were stragglers I found buried in the weedy tangle of the old gardens and others were gifts from friends who were cleaning out and dividing old plants and more than happy to share with me.

Do you know what sorts of plants your friends divide and are happy to give away?? Those that are invasive and have begun to take over their own gardens! I was glad to receive anything at all, so merrily planted monarda, lysimachia, campanula, evening primrose….

I was new to flower gardening, actually, and had a lot to learn.  I soon learned that these pretty plants wanted to take over the world.  They sneakily send out their tendrils beneath the surface in every direction, popping up new plants in the most unexpected places, like in the middle of the iris patch, or between stones in the garden pathway, or under the clothesline.  Too late I learned that if I pulled up the wayward plant like a weed, ten more would spring up from the remaining roots.  Now my beautiful, sparkling magenta monarda is simply TOO MUCH and has gone TOO  FAR, invading EVERYTHING!  I’ve tried everything I can think of to contain it , and now must do something drastic.

I don’t like to admit that I have harbored invasive tendencies in my soul as well.  Nurtured and nourished secret demands and judgments and vows that started out, perhaps,  in response to a hurt or an unmet need of my own.  Unspoken, unvoiced and unknown even to myself, but powerful nontheless:   I deserve your attention and understanding; if you slight me, I will unloose an arrow of unkindness from my lips to pierce your soul….   If you hurt me like that again, I will withdraw from you in cold silence….   I am so disappointed, and you can be sure you will know it.
Yesterday I had a fight with my beloved JR.   Well, it wasn’t truly a fight, but we hurt each other.  We didn’t intend to; but we didn’t intend NOT to, either.  Our tender places and prides got in the way.

I was impatient with disappointment — he said he would do something and didn’t follow through.  At least not on my timetable.  My good longings got tangled up with gnarly roots of disappointment and impatience, and what sprouted wasn’t pretty.  He was hurt, and I was hurt, and  thus we experienced yet another opportunity for repentance and grace.  After 30+ years of marriage, we have faced plenty of such opportunities, and have learned the art of the “Do-Over”.    But ‘Why, O Lord?  Why do I do what I don’t want to do, and fail to do what I truly want to do??’  I deeply love this man, and DON’T want to hurt him.  Haven’t I tugged at these same old roots enough?  Haven’t I tried diligently to eradicate these old tendencies?  Disappointments happen, but unkind impatience is not a lovely response!

I’m so grateful for the Spirit of Christ, who forgives both me and JR equally and equips us to say “I’m sorry, I don’t want to hurt you.  Let’s try that again.”  But:  Am I grateful for the keen opportunity to experience this amazing grace, yet again?  If all  these ugly old roots were expunged, maybe, yes, I would be happier and nicer to live with.  But would I miss the sweet aroma of grace?  Would I perhaps slide into smugness and a different kind of pride?

Meanwhile, my Bee Balm invades my Baptisia, and I don’t know what else to do except dig up the entire garden and replant ONLY the non-spreading perennials.  But, dilemma:  I LIKE the Bee Balm, and I would miss the wonderful aroma and the butterflies and hummingbirds it attracts. What in the world did Eve do in the Garden of Eden??!

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