It’s time for my annual non-conformist post on lawn care. Several months back I shared my thoughts on “Why we rake and shovel.” Today I want to raise the topic of those beautiful yellow “flowers” that are so willing to decorate our yards if we’ll only allow them safe refuge. Yes, let’s talk about dandelions. So, here’s my thoughts — and, warning, this is a tongue-in-cheek post. I’m half-serious about half these thoughts. You have to sort it out.
1. Who decided that a pure green lawn with no dandelions, no crab grass and other species of grass would be the ideal yard?
Who decides such things? Seems as arbitrary as styles of clothing that come and go: ripped jeans one day and stonewashed the next, earth tones one day and Hawaiian shirts the next. If I’m honest, and don’t let the cultural norm sway my opinion, I think dandelions are quite beautiful. (My mom seemed to have agreed when I picked her a bouquet of them as a child — though it didn’t work this Mother’s Day as a 30 year old.)
2. Who honestly thinks it’s a wise investment to spend hundreds of dollars of chemical lawn treatment, fertilizer, weed killer (and thousands for a sprinkler system) to get the “perfect lawn”?
For Jesus followers, (and now I’m going to step on some toes), couldn’t that money go towards more significant things? For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25). People are perishing (in this life and eternally), and we’re primping our lawns — even though the winter’s coming again in a few months. This is a stewardship issue worth praying about.
3. Isn’t “going natural” in style these days?
Shouldn’t we extend this trend to our lawn care practices as well? Are weeds less natural than flowers? What is grass anyways — weed or flower? Grass moves from friend to enemy when it rears it’s head in our rock gardens! Does “going green” necessarily mean singling out the poor yellow-heads and waging war on them? Haven’t they suffered enough? Why do we elevate kentucky blue grass over and above, say, “crab grass”?
“Well, Jeremy,” you retort, “Don’t you know that dandelions are an invasive weed, and if you give it an inch, it’ll take a mile.” My response: I kind of respect invasive weeds. They remind me of the early church. The harder the Roman Empire persecuted and tried to stamp out the early Jesus movement, singling them out and killing them, the larger and stronger the church grew and multiplied. As one early writer put it, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” The church thrived when it was a persecuted, counter-cultural minority. Yep, as soon as the blade of my mower cuts the dandelion off at the head, the seed is released and blown across the entire lawn and they multiply even more. I wish the church could become more invasive, more resilient, more persistent like those dandelions in my yard. I’m starting to gain a strange appreciation for the dandelions in my yard. They stand out among the rest of the boring, predictable, green grass. They grow taller than the other grass. They have thicker stems. They make their presence known. They add an exotic beauty. They’re more eager to multiply. They’re odd. “So are you, Jeremy,” you’re probably thinking right now.
4. Finally, what would Jesus do with the dandelions?
Consider my paraphrase of the following parable for fun — substituting “dandelions” and “grass” for “weeds” and “wheat”:
Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who planted green grass in his lawn. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and planted dandelions in the grass, and went away. When the grass grew green and healthy, then the dandelions also appeared. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you plant good grass in your lawn? Where then did the dandelions come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?” ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the dandelions, you may root up the grass with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the dandelions and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the grass and bring it into my barn.’ ” (Matt 13)
While my seminary professors would cringe at my applying Jesus’ parable to literal lawn care methods (and I’m not serious!), it’s still worth pondering whether I might get away using Jesus’ parable to justify letting the dandelions grow this summer. What would Jesus do?
What are your thoughts on dandelions? What spiritual lessons are you learning from your yard work this spring?