Noxious Weeds: The Real Contagion

By Eugene C. Scott

The silence settled on me like an old friendship. I let go of pieces of my worry, fear, self-doubt, and tiredness with every breath. Though I had never hunted this section of the mountain before, I was home. Not just a place I called home or felt at home, but the place God birthed me, the dirt God held in his fist and blew my life into.

“Ahhh!”

Shredded mist, gray and translucent, drifted up from the dark timber, looking like the prayers and groans of creation Saint Paul spoke of in his letter to the church in ancient Rome. I offered a prayer and groan of my own.

“Thanks, God, for this piece of almost-Eden. Oh, that I could reflect your beauty like this.”

The morning felt as if this was how God intended the world to be, how the world might have looked the day before the gate to the Garden was flung open from the inside and those two naive but no longer innocent humans stumbled out. This felt like the world in which I could be who I was originally invented to be.

As the morning slid by, however, I noticed dark stalks sticking up above the native grasses and fading wildflowers. I didn’t notice them at first because they had a dark, contrasting beauty of their own. My eyes had painted the scene with an unreal perfection. These stalks, however, represented noxious weeds. Its Latin name “carduus tenuifloris” sounds lovely but actually is an ugly, natty, thorny, invasive thistle. Weeds.

Thistles

Except thistles and other noxious weeds are not just garden variety weeds. In America, sate and federal governments use the term “noxious weed” to describe a non-native plant that will–if left unchecked–destroy native plants and wildlife. Somehow these plants have been transported into an environment not prepared to resist them. Once there, noxious weeds take over and strangle the native plants and the animals that depend on those native plants.

Because of a few small weeds that could double their footprint each year, every flower and native grass, and thus the elk I love, the hawk wheeling in the morning mist, the mouse climbing flower stalks and knocking them over for seeds, was in danger. I was thankful for organizations like the Rocky Mountain Elk foundations that spends thousands of dollars and volunteer hours fighting noxious weeds.

Still an old weight and realization settled on me. This one an old unwanted friend. You see, I too am infested with non-native noxious weeds. We–all of us humans–were once pristine, unmarred, golden, perfect. Now, however, we too are being strangled by noxious weeds with beautiful sounding Latin names, “invidialuxuriasuperbiaacedia, gula,avaritia, and ira.”

If invidia (envy) or luxuria (lust) grow unchecked in my life, my beautiful wife, my fantastic children and grandchildren, my ministry, even this moment hunting this pristine meadow will be lost. Meanwhile non-native superbia (pride) will destroy my friendships and acedia (sloth) would swallow my material possessions. Gula (gluttony) will outright but sweetly kill me. Avaritia (greed) will gladly deceive me. And ira (wrath) will rot my soul.

These seven non-native noxious weeds and their thousands of sub-species have taken root in every person God ever breathed his pure, cool breath into. They invade and destroy our God-given beauty and purpose. I’ve seen some of these weeds in your life and you have seen them in mine.

It is tragic. I look closely into the faces of my two tender, gorgeous, funny, intelligent, delightful grandchildren, their eyes sparkling, hair awry, and see the dark stalks pushing up from the seeds of my unchecked noxious weeds.

But there is hope.

A woman, like you and me, over-taken by noxious weeds: prostitution, lust, self-debasement, fear, and only God knows what else, knelt and washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and long hair.

“Your sins are forgiven,” Jesus told her. Your weeds are on the endangered species list.

When Jesus died on the cross, his pure, sacrificial blood drenched her noxious weeds and began to drown them out. Just then Jesus began to restore her to her natural, pristine state. This is true for you and me too.

But killing these weeds is not about being religious, powerful, smart, right, or watching how-to TV shows, mumbling miracle mantras or whatever else we use to try to control our imperfections and sins.

Jesus’ sacrificial gift to us is about restoring creation, this nearly perfect mountain meadow surrounded by aspens turning gold, and us not-so-perfect humans as well, to its original state. No matter the state of our weedy gardens, we can be forgiven and restored. It is a gift of love.

Saint Paul again,

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Eugene C. Scott is proud to be a member of one of the finest conservation organizations around, The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and a writer who has written for Bugle Magazine. When he is not hunting, he is co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Noxious Weeds: The Real Contagion

  1. Georgie-ann

    Noxious weeds. It is so important to see their influence as invasive and destructive to the real, true God-designed “me.” They are, in fact, NOT the real me, or the real anyone else, but they ARE the real infiltrated characteristics of the invasive enemy, who is absolutely incapable of anything but pure hatred for us, our lives and souls, as God has originally designed them.

    Even though we may experience some of these characteristics in an intrinsic way, as if they do really originate from within us, when we “dig deeper” to find the God-indwelled place of “silence” and peace within, perhaps coming closer to our “spirit” identity, we can see that all this noise and drama is taking place in our more external layers. These seem to act as “semi-permeable membranes,” — the senses, flesh, emotions/mind/soul — irresistibly conditioned and affected/infected by the necessary, passive contact and inter-mingling with the outer circumstances of life. To “be born into the flesh” is to inherit a veritable “mixed bag.”

    It is undeniable that the conflict and downward and outward influences of earthly pulls (and the moral “noxious weeds”/7 deadly sins) surrounding us are strong. But Christ’s sacrifice has provided for us the “way of escape” and the power to escape, if we so choose to align ourselves with Him and with God. This freedom is a blessing, but it is also a potential that will take our co-operation and intentional choices to maximize our closeness to the Lord and His ways.

    James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

    We need to stand strong, disentangle, and provide resistance to the ways we wish to avoid. Sometimes it can feel like paddling upstream against the current. But there is a place of reward that we come to, a different, steady and deeper current that we will eventually find, that seems most able to bring us along safely and less encumbered to our destination.

    Luke 21:28 ” … LOOK UP, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”

    Such a perfect analogy, Eugene! Noxious and invasive — unwanted and destructive — weeds. Foreign particles, unaligned with the true nature of the host. And they do give us a “fight for survival.”

    Nice article!

  2. elna

    Noxious weeds can be so pretty!!

  3. Georgie-ann

    Dear Eugene,…The “real me” is just a “happy camper” in God & I’m not sure how that translates in terms of what is conveyed to others,…I can imagine that we would find a lot to share/talk about due to all this blogging, however, and that would definitely be fun/exciting!,…it’s a great idea!,…

    but I’m not very sure how/where it would ever happen, since I’m not a very enthusiastic traveler myself,…perhaps some folks from there would be interested in coming NYC-way someday?,…I have brothers there, one family in particular that is quite hospitable to traveler/tourists (friends/family) on a fairly frequent basis,…just thinking,…another brother lives near DC, and I’ve been known to get myself there, but it’s a much longer drive than I really care for,…& it’s either CA or TX for the others!

    I would certainly LOVE to meet y’all if it was easy enough to do,…otherwise, there’s always heaven to look forward to!,…or maybe skype (but I’m really not set up for that either!),…anyway, it’s all good!

    I just like looking up at the sky and thinking of people who are “far away” and praying,…especially from my personal NE exposure view, or in front of the Greek Orthodox Church with its beautiful mosaic icon of Jesus and its lovely eastern horizon,…we’re always blessed! (-:

    come to think of it,…you never see too many “noxious weeds” when you’re gazing at the sky!,…which I do a lot!!

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