A weed needs so little room to take root. It doesn’t even need proper soil, near as I can tell. Just a little sliver of space, maybe some moisture, a bit of sun, and wah-lah: Weed Central. You see them on the side of roads where there’s but a crack. We found one yesterday growing underneath an upstairs window.

It reminds me of how little room sin needs to get firmly rooted in me. It only needs a small crack in my resolve, a little light from the not-quite-shut curtain, a tiny seed of doubt.

Sometimes the weeds don’t look so bad. In fact, sometimes they add color and texture to an otherwise desolate area. Sometimes they flower and make you forget that they are a weed. Sometimes maybe they are even a blessing.

Isn’t that just like sin? Sometimes it doesn’t seem so bad. Sometimes it is, in fact, so much more convenient than the truth of God’s plan. Sometimes I’m tempted to think of sin as a blessing, as a better alternative, as a shortcut to the desired end.

When I put on my gloves and buckle down to get dirty with the weeds in the garden of my soul, I see that the roots go deep, intertwining with the plants I want to keep, infiltrating every part of my life.

Only God has the Round-Up that will take care of these guys. Only by his grace will I be able to keep them from taking over again. I find humiliation in this knowledge…and relief.

I don’t have to do it by myself.

I am also reminded about the wisdom of prevention. My brother-in-law showed me the beauty of mulch for keeping weeds out – but if the mulch is applied late in the summer, it doesn’t do as effective a job. When I attack my sins early on, they are easier to change, especially if they involve habits. If I wait until later, it becomes a larger challenge.

There’s probably no way in this life to avoid having the small room available for sin to take root. What I can do, though, is feed the soil of my soul with the sacraments that will help me keep sin at bay. I can surround myself with Jesus, who conquered all sin, and keep company with the saints and people of good influence. I can try to avoid the near occasions that surround me, and pray my way through the ones I stumble into.

A weed needs so little room, and so does sin. I need a lot of help to keep the way clear. Those weeds don’t waste any time in getting started…and neither should I!

Modified from a post originally published September 5, 2006

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