I like to work in my yard. I love to clear the path for the new growth that occurs every spring by cleaning out the dead leaves and debris. This season is no different. But, this time, while in the midst of the crumbled leaves, the dead pine needles, and even the blown-in pieces of trash, I learned something.
There are four beautiful pine bushes growing in my front lawn with a boat-load of rocks – large, medium, small and tiny – placed all around them (too many, really). This was something set up by the prior homeowners years ago, so when I moved in, I left it as I found it. This spring, it was time to clean out the underlying earth stuff that was now morphed into and beneath all the rocks. I made the decision to transform it. The slow process of removing every rock and cleaning underneath was sometimes laborious and time-consuming.
I have to admit that I loved grabbing and pulling out the muck with my hands in between and underneath the rocks! What a rush! I find the smell of wet leaves and dirt and the spring sun warming my back comforting and life-giving. There was something about it that made me feel like I was doing the bushes (and the earth) a service: I was removing the dead stuff stifling their growth; I was making them look better; and, in the process of eliminating what had been mounting on top of their roots for probably years, I was allowing them to breathe easier. I was contributing to their health and vitality.
As I moved each rock to see what was underneath, I thought about my life throughout the decades, and I asked myself what did I need to remove for me to breathe easier, and what have I already removed. As I cleaned up the surface-level trash and the old leaves, I realized that this was the easy part. The removal of what everyone sees on the outside (what everyone will see from the curb or from the street, in this case) can be “cleaned up” pretty easily: we are courteous in public, we groom ourselves, we brush our teeth, we add makeup, we cut, clean, and color our hair, we shave, we wear clean clothes, and we present our outer selves (our surface-level selves) to others pretty well. This is okay, and it is a reflection of who we are. We want to present ourselves as acceptable and want others to like us, but how many of us really like what is underneath? How many of us present a different picture when we are alone? I asked myself how I treat myself when I DO NOT have to “clean up” for others. I began to ponder…
As I finished the surface-level cleanup on the top of the rocks, I started to move each and every one of them to see what was underneath. There I found even more dead leaves, trash, compost, and some weed roots that needed to be removed. Wow. This entailed a lot more work than I had expected! As I moved each rock, pulling up the debris and the roots of weeds with my hands, I pondered what I have “underneath my rocks,” or deep within, that has not been pulled or cleaned up. That was a sobering thought. What am I hiding beneath my rocks? What do we hide about ourselves that if brought to light, would dramatically improve our lives for the better and allow the sun, the water, the air, the universe or God to give us more life or heal us? What needs to be removed?
I then moved even more rocks. I realized the roots of the weeds that I discovered in between and under several layers of rocks were deeply embedded; I realized they were there for years and years, and no one ever bothered to remove them. I knew they really did not belong there. They crowded and suffocated the roots of the bushes, which needed room to breathe so they could grow and flourish. The weed-roots had to be removed.
I pulled and pulled with all my might to no avail. I could not completely remove all of the weeds. I had to leave them there for the time being with the intent of completely removing them step by step with patience and diligence. But I was now aware that they were there: they were not going anywhere and they were strong and deeply rooted. How many of us have self-destructive behaviors or thoughts that are so deeply rooted? I pondered mine…
What began as a difficult task ended up being a great lesson in my life: the surface level cleanup is not enough – move the rocks and clean up what is underneath, and do all you can, Vilma, to get to the roots and remove them, no matter how deeply rooted. Abundant life requires clean up. It requires not only surface-level cleanup but also deep, root-removal. Ignoring untrue or destructive thoughts will lead to destructive emotions; destructive emotions will lead to destructive behaviors; and, destructive behaviors lead to destructive character. The more I “clean” and am aware of my “deep-seated roots,” the more I can pull them out or change my thoughts, emotions, and behavior to allow more life into my being. This, I believe, is the true meaning of the phrase, “life rocks.”
Now, go look underneath your rocks.