Weeds Are The Devil's Handiwork

Have people forgotten the meaning of the words they use? Case in point…

Sunday lunch with Zealous Church Lady and her devoted Methodist family, was never predictable. I endured recaps of church service highlights and the latest congregational gossip. Being a Buddhist—or the equivalent among this hard-core Christian community, a heathen—I just listened with neutral disinterest. I tried not to judge, but my resolve was breached on the day when Zealous Church Lady began her lamentations about the disturbing conditions of the gardens around their church.

I wasn’t surprised at her passion. Nearly everything church-related was, to her, elevated to the importance of “red” on the Homeland Security Advisory System: the disorderly Thrift Shop inventory and bookkeeping, the inept pastor-du-jour, or the muddled music room. But the disobedient flora was simply too much for her to take. She was, among her many accomplishments, a Master Gardener. An unkempt flowerbed was sacrilegious in any plot of ground; but a messy garden around an actual house of worship was blasphemous.

One martini and two glasses of wine into the lunch, the tirade began.

“Something must be done about the church gardens. They are a complete disaster,” she said, shaking her head and clunking her wine glass down for emphasis—or because she misjudged the distance between the table and her wine glass.

I contemplated her word choice. While I empathized with—but didn’t understand—either her gardening lust or her conviction that weeds would lead to the Apocalypse, I objected to elevating the condition of any garden to a “disaster.” The dictionary defines disaster as “a calamitous event, especially one occurring suddenly and causing great loss of life, damage, or hardship.” No mention of weeds…

Disaster? Really? I think Hurricane Katrina and the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown were disasters. The weedy garden around your church is, I think, probably best described as unsightly,” I offered.

The three Christians glared at me. I was glad there wasn’t a lion’s den into which I could be thrown.

My observation was overlooked in favor of further conversation about the disastrous garden and how to intervene before the situation escalated to a cataclysm of Biblical proportions. I cleared the dishes but left the wine glasses.