Sitting in the front yard with my cat today, both of us soaking up some warm, spring sunshine, I noticed all of the dandelion seed heads standing up tall, the dainty little seeds just waiting for the wind to carry them off. I recalled how, as a child, I often aided in the seed disbursement by making a wish, taking a deep breath, and trying to send every last seed off on its mission. Rarely did I manage to release them all, and that meant my wishes wouldn’t come true. Sometimes my friends and I would work on this for quite some time, hoping to gain the promise of wishes to be granted. We would pick and gather, huff and puff, and blow with gale force breaths until we were barely able to stand, but almost always there would be those 4 or 5 renegade seeds who would refuse to let go. I can recall a few times when we were able to give each and every seed a send-off, but I have no recollection of what we were wishing for, or whether dreams came true. I’m quite certain that the fun of gathering those first harbingers of spring and making a child’s game out of them was quite enough happiness for us on those warm, April days. Winter had become a gloomy memory, and the simple pleasures, the freedom to run and play and use our imaginations, going barefoot for the first time on the fresh, cool grass, and the game of making wishes with dandelion seeds…that was enough. When the list of wishes was exhausted (along with the wishers), we would make a spring bouquet of the dandelions still in bloom, and run off to the closest mother. I’m sure the poor flowers were wilted before they even made it in the door, their flimsy stems useless for holding up the sunny crowns, but our mothers (or, grandmother, in my case) never complained. They offered us genuine thanks, and took them off to the kitchen for an effort at making an artful floral display, as we headed off to our next, outdoor adventure.
As these pleasant memories faded, I pondered the downfall of the dandelion, and wondered how it has come to be seen as a scourge on the suburban lawn. How could such a perfect, bright, little flower have provoked the emergence of so many herbicide sprays and lawn-care companies? Before long, we’ll see the vans driving down the street, or notice our neighbors with the herbicide spray tank hooked up to their hose, and we’ll detect the noxious fumes wafting down the avenue. Slowly, but surely, the flowers will wilt and whither, and all will be right again in “Pleasant Valley.” (If you’re not a former Monkees fan, do some research on that one!)
Yeah, all right…I hear what you’re saying! It’s a weed, for crying out loud. A very fertile weed that could soon take over the world with its parachuting seeds. If we don’t control them, we’ll have those ugly, broadleaf monsters encroaching on our perfectly weeded, mulched flower beds! Well, I say, “So what?”
Who brings these modern (or, perhaps not-so-modern) views of societal perfection into our heads, where do they start, and why do we latch on so easily? These trends begin innocuously enough. We have these visions of beauty and perfection, and we try to attain our visions. It starts with weed control, and it blossoms into a striving for (what we see as) absolute perfection in every realm. We are coerced and influenced by our neighbors, TV advertisements, the media, and the false ideals of beauty and happiness portrayed by the rich and famous. If our lawns are perfect, our bodies perfect, our houses worthy of the covers of magazines; if we find the perfect spouse (on maybe the third or fourth try), or hang out with the “in” crowd…all of these efforts will lead us to absolute happiness. We’ll be happier than a little child with a field full of dandelions at their disposal…right?!
When do we go back to thinking for ourselves? When do we say, “Enough!” When do we learn to give up control over every little thing, and when, oh when, can we go back to enjoying a simple, natural life, without worrying about what everyone else thinks?! It’s not the weeds in our yard that are the problem, but the weeds in our hearts. We need to turn our attention to our goals, our expectations, our lack of true discernment, and our misunderstanding of the meaning of life. Perhaps there’s a bit of pruning and weed pulling needed in those areas. If we focus our hearts on simple living and genuine loving, if we live with gratitude and persist in compassionate care of those around us, we will learn to embrace the dandelions on our path, as we once did in our childhood.
Enjoy this season of hope and promise and new life. Turn your hearts towards the eternal, and embrace the Sacred Word of love. The gifts that flow from such a method of life navigation are many and varied, not the least of which is a new attitude about real beauty and a prudent understanding of sincere value. Start out slow and easy, take baby steps. The very first assignment is to take a very deep breath, contemplate the simple beauty of creation, and when you breathe out, make sure there’s a dandelion seed globe in your hand. Make a wish, blow as hard as you can, and live the joy of hope taking flight.