Theodore Roethke wrote this poem that echoes the writing of Shunryu Suzuki, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Thomas Merton. Frequently, I forget the need for weeds. They add to the richness of the garden I call my life. Roethke said it so eloquently: “These shape the creature that is I”. The good and the not-so-good of life help shape me.
Today, I talked with students about a need for resiliency, so when we run into those bumps along the road of life or find weeds in life’s garden, we realize they are there to make us a fuller and richer person. Often, when I look back, I see the beauty of something that I felt was harmful when it happened. Perhaps, I was just not ready for what I thought I wanted, needed to be patient, and wait my turn. Or I was not ready to fully understand what needed to learn and needed to mature.
Long live the weeds that overwhelm
My narrow vegetable realm!–
The bitter rock, the barren soil
That force the son of man to toil;
All things unholy, marked by curse,
The ugly of the universe.
The rough, the wicked, the wild
That keep the spirit undefiled.
With these I match my wit
And earn the right to stand or sit,
Hope, look, create, or drink and die:
These shape the creature that is I.