My back yard is a disaster. We have a gigantic eyesore right in the middle of it—an old above-ground pool. The sides have fallen in. The liner is in varying states of shredding and disintegrating. We try to keep it drained and mosquito-bombed, but we still manage to get visits from ducks every spring. This year, my sons decided to make pool removal a project, so now we have additional mess—a pile of aluminum pool pieces, a stack of wood from the old deck, a metal coffee can for nails and other small pieces of metal.
The pool has been such an eyesore that I can barely stand to be in the back yard. I averted my eyes during lilac season when I went outside to stick my head in the lilac bush. I try not to look at it when I walk out to the clothesline. I’ve spent hardly any time tending to gardening needs for a couple years now.
Now that things are on the upswing inside my home in terms of marriage and family, I’m feeling a yearning to enfold my yard within my arms as well. My peonies are about to bloom, so when I got home this afternoon, I decided to go out and enjoy my budding peonies. This is what I found:
Thistles. Ugh. As the queen of denial and procrastination, I sighed and headed back into my house, overwhelmed by the task ahead of me. Then I saw an old gardening glove sticking out from behind the deep freeze on my back porch, beckoning to me. Just a few minutes, it whispered to me. Just try to work on it for a few minutes. So I stuck the glove on and trudged back outside to tackle the thistles. With only one hand, I pulled giant thistles and vines to try to clear things out.
I’ve never really liked this flower bed in the back. I inherited it from the previous owners. When we first moved here, I had great visions of what I could do with this bed, but in the twelve years I’ve lived here, I haven’t done much more with it than add some iris bulbs and remove some of the day lilies to plant in other spots in the yard. I found myself grumbling about the previous owners and all the poor landscaping decisions they made. Look what they stuck me with. All these stupid ugly vines are covering everything up and pulling the irises down. They’re covering up the peonies and creating a haven for all these awful thistles. And I’m getting a rash while I try to tackle these stupid weeds. Ow. A thistle hurt me. Stupid thistle.
It isn’t much different from tending to your marriage bed, is it? One big problem—like a pool, or a spouse’s mistake, or a crisis—can make it more pleasant to not pay attention to it at all. We can all be weighed down by the vines of our past—our childhood, our previous relationships, the marriages we saw while growing up. We can start a marriage with grand visions, but if we don’t actively and intentionally tend to the bed, thistles can grow—and become so giant that they take over and make it difficult to see any of the beauty that is waiting for us.
A flower bed doesn’t stay beautiful without tending, and neither does a marriage. Sometimes, we have to just dig in and risk a few thorns and rashes as we do the work of weeding and loving what we have. And then, the garden will bloom.