The bane of suburban yards everywhere.
They’re small but powerful weeds that require constant vigilance by proud lawn owners to keep at bay.
People will do just about anything to be rid of them. And even if you yourself don’t mind the bright yellow clusters that pop up, daring you not to notice them, you don’t want to be THAT neighbor: the one that lets dandelions gain a foothold in an otherwise immaculate grid of houses and green, thwarting the hard work of people who just want some order amidst the chaos, some tranquility and control while running this ratty race.
I didn’t hate dandelions until I realized we were becoming THOSE neighbors. We bought our first house in an established, well kept neighborhood. The kind where older couples walk their dogs, and younger couples walk their toddlers. The kind where a school sits two blocks away and you can hear kids playing and shouting at recess. The kind where people cross the street to say “Hi" after a long winter of being shut away.
One day, a neighbor came to say “Hi.” and I suddenly became aware and insecure about the dandelions in our yard.
I used to love when they would pop up, small and happy, and as the summer goes on, they change into little irresistible orbs begging you to make a wish and scatter the seeds to the four corners of every yard.
It doesn’t take much to disturb the immaculate grid of green in a subdivision.
No, I didn’t used to hate dandelions, but after that day, we began a campaign to exterminate them.
This last weekend was warm and we spent it outside. We planted 30 daffodils and a couple trees and several shrubs & ornamental grasses. We moved earth and heaved out roots. We did big work to shape our yard into something that looked like a respectable yard and not like the owners have two small kids and a dog and lack all sense of propriety.
But our 3-year old didn’t care about any of this. He wanted to find the “blossoms of the wishing flowers”. He wanted to find those irresistible yellow flowers that turn into “wishing flowers” by some magic, with seeds that scatter every which way.
Every morning, he asks to go outside to try to find the dandelions. The other night, he wept when we told him there wouldn’t be wishing flowers for at least a few more weeks. We didn’t have the heart to tell him that when he did find them it wouldn’t be in his own back yard.
You see, like dandelions, children are small and unpredictable and difficult to shape and harness. It doesn’t take much for their “chaos” to spread. The work to weed out what makes a kid a kid takes years…until they’re adults and can be taught to hate the unpredictability of a dandelion. They ARE dandelions in a world of grown ups that want all things predictable and ordered and controlled.
Which is why I think kids loved Jesus. He was a dandelion, too. He was unpredictable and irresistible and just his presence dared people not to notice God’s profound beauty and love. And he was and is begging for us to scatter those small seeds into the world and invite people to notice.
A tulip bulb can be dug out, but just try to recapture all the seeds that a dandelion gives over to the wind.
God has been asking me to let my big plans be inconvenienced lately. Some of them over the last year have been dismantled entirely. He’s asked me to give over all I have planned to accomplish in order to turn my attention over to the small (and big) people in my life asking me to put my big things away, so that I can be present with them. As someone who wants to get stuff done, it’s been hard for me.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
To listen to God’s still, small voice, to let the chaotic, unpredictable children come to Jesus and to let Jesus disrupt our plans, is to give up our own power and become the seed, not the landscaper. Instead of determining who and what belongs where, our small selves are spread to all the yards, all the corners of our neighborhoods, daring people not to notice God’s deep love in and through us.
Music: Durufle’s Requiem Op. 9 Intoit
Prayer: God, you’re the landscaper here. I’m the seed. Whether I’m a bulb that is specifically placed, or the dandelion seed being spread by the wind, let me show Your beauty wherever I am. Amen.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls (howhound.com/recipes/vietnamese-style-summer-rolls-with-peanut-sauce-10641)
This is a meal best assembled with friends/family. Each ingredient is small and powerful by themselves, but are harmonious together, just like a room of friends. You can’t help but notice each element and the meal engages all of your senses. It’s worth the effort!
Time: Get herb seeds (basil, mint, whatever), and plant them in the ground or in a pot. Nurture them and watch them grow. When they arrive, clip some and share them with a neighbor. (OR use them to make the spring rolls and invite your neighbor over for dinner!)