Sunday, May 26, 2013

Digging roots

Last weekend I had the pleasure of digging out some shrubs—roots and all.

This is our second spring in this house. Last year was the "let everything grow to see what previous owners planted and take some time to decide if we like it or not" year. We decided we didn't like most, well, any, of the random selection of bushes along the side of the house.

Step number one in turning that area of the yard into something we want and like is getting rid of the stuff we don't want and like. And that meant digging out the bushes. Because I don't want these bushes to sucker and creep-up again, I needed to get the roots out.

While I was digging, I was reminded of the similarities between bushes and sin. I know, it's obvious.

More specifically, I thought of the roots. I ran across three main kinds of roots as I dug. There were the shallow, not-too-hard-to-remove kind—my favourite. It was apparent the moisture and nutrients in the soil weren't abundant in that particular area.

These roots are like the little venial sins in our lives. They have become part of us, but a little work, a little love, a little forgiveness and we can readily get rid of them.

The second type of root is a bit harder to get rid of, the ones that aren't very deep but run long. They have obviously been fed over the years, but not as well as maybe they should have been. They have learned to spread to where the moisture and nutrients are.

Our bad habits, those sins that have become part of us, are like this type of root. We don't always focus on them, or maybe we aren't always aware of them, but they have found a way to grow over the years and become a part of us. Thankfully, some prayerful examination and a little penance is usually adequate to deal with these sins.

The third type of root became my nemesis—the deep tap root. That main root that gets fed, becomes deep and an integral part of the plant. It is strong because it's a central part of the plant, and it runs deep to ensure the plant gets fed when surface moisture disappears.

The vice that we struggle with is like this type of root. We know it's there, and we even feed it with our sin. We don't like to, but we do it anyway. It's hard to get rid of, and more often than not we'll spend a lifetime trying to rid ourselves of this sin. You know those one or two (or more) sins you confess every single time you seek the sacrament of reconciliation? That's the tap root of sin.

I got rid of all the bushes—roots and all. I had the right tools, the will and perseverance, and I was willing to put in the work to make a clean slate for our landscaping that area.

We can get rid of our sin with the right tools (prayer, examining our conscience, God's forgiveness, the sacraments), the will to turn away from them and perseverance. Oh, and a truckload of grace and forgiveness from the God who is love—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Next post will be about what we did with that blank slate of yard and how God wants to work with our clean slate. Stay tuned.

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