July. When gardens go wild, semi feral becomes the natural state of most perennial and vegetable gardens. They get out of hand, brambles, sweet pea, tomato vines, okra, wisteria, and muscadine all conspire to become a primordial jungle in July. Let’s not talk about August.
The whole thing is just ripe for interpretation, begging to pick meaning in the mess.
Life is messy. What do we do with the mess in the hot July sun?
We have this bramble patch in our back yard, an old rail road bed, no trains go there now. Now it is where the wild things are. Right next to it I have grown muscadine vines on wires stretched between wooden posts. And in between the vines and the brambles is a no man’s land, where everything tries to grow together. My children have always avoided it. I seem to spend too much time back there, wrestling with the impinging wilderness.
It’s the kind of place where people like Jacob, the son of Isaac live, on the edge of cultivation and wild things. I love his story. The drama, the comedy, the tragedy, the surprise of God in the messiness of a misspent life.
Today is the vision of Jacob’s ladder, the stair way to heaven. A powerful event. Jacob, the mama’s boy, was on the run, he was being hunted by his brother whom he had cheated one too many times. He had planted weeds in his brother’s field one too many times.
Jacob, who was accustomed to comfort and privilege, found himself with nothing, hiding out and on the run, dirt and rocks were now his home.
Going into exile, to a foreign land, begging shelter from an uncle he had never met before, God came to Jacob. Jacob lost everything, ill gained and other wise, everything but God.
Jacob had never really cared about God in any practical way.
Jacob had other schemes and plans and plots, and manipulations to occupy him. Now God was all he had. In a way, Jacob was born again that night. He had much to learn in the journey ahead. It’s the stuff of soap operas and comedy routines. Stay tuned.
All families are dysfunctional. It turns out to be especially true of God’s family.
God seems to be attracted to messy lives.
The parable of the wheat and tares that we hear today, it makes all gardeners and farmers twitch.
Letting the good seed and the bad seed grow together, it disturbs us, it’s the part of the parable that grabs our attention and twists our gut. The parable bids us pay attention to that feeling and what it teaches about a faithful life.
Life is messy and imperfect, families, communities, countries and churches are all mixed fields of good and bad that cannot be separated without killing everything. There are many examples in the history of the Church and the history of countries that illustrate the fallacy and evil of pursuing purity.
God lets the good and the bad grow up together. God lets the world suffer. God lets the world sabotage itself with the best and the worst intentions. It disturbs us, this parable of God’s messy world. Like Jacob being a vessel of God’s blessing and salvation for all creation.
No matter how devious the works of the devil may be in sowing evil with the good, the greatest work of the devil is to tempt us to destruction in the pursuit of perfection and purity.
The messy stuff, that’s where we find the ladder of angels, the gateway to the mystery of the holiness and strangeness of God.
We spend so much of our lives and our faith trying to fabricate perfection and driving out those who are different.
The deep reading of the faith shows something different. A different way to live. A different way to see. A different way to die.
The brokenness of our lives and the world, it is a holy place, it is the house of God, it is the gate of heaven, where the righteous shine like the sun in July.
God bless this mess!