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IN THE BEAUTY OF THE LILIES
May 15, 2007
 
You're very pretty, but you're out of control.

This was addressed to a pretty little creeper, whom I had allowed to stay in place when she appeared and who is now carpeting the garden, trying to smother all the lavender on one side.

She is pretty: little blue flowers atop nice round leaves with frilled
edges. But today will be a day of ruthless weeding. You can't be
emotional about weeding. Just do it. Whistling "The Battle Hymn of the
Republic" while you weed helps you get through it.

What gives me the right to this campaign? Who am I to decide who will remain in the garden and who will not? Nothing gives me the right, I guess, except the fact that I am the gardener. I have responsibility for a whole garden full of plants, never for just one plant. My little blue-flowered friend can't run rampant and kill other plants.

Weeds are just plants, after all, plants who have a hard time with limits. They are not evil. The same things happens in groups of people, too, especially in groups of well-meaning people who want to affirm the gifts others. Churches, for instance. Sometimes a person whose need for recognition and power is deeper than the group can supply can begin to function like a weed, taking over everything the group tries to do, inserting her need for attention into every issue. She means no harm, but she can do a great deal of it. She isn't thinking clearly: her own neediness clouds her good intentions.

Very careful limits need to be set, and she will not like it. She will think you're not a good Christian, that you don't understand or respect her gifts, that nobody does. This makes the group feel guilty and sad: Maybe we should just let it go, they say to each other, she's had a hard life, after all. They yield to her way. But then they realize that they don't enjoy activities in which everything has to be about her, and they stop coming.

This is a time for reason, not for emotion. Whatever her needs, she is not the only one in the group whose bloom must be encouraged and protected: everyone needs his or her time in the sun. It may be that it is only by containing her can others find the sun.

If she can't make the shift, she may have to leave the garden. If she can, though, she's on her way to a maturity she never could have gained if everyone had folded and given her everything she wanted.

The words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic were written by Julia Ward Howe, who knew something about the loving setting of limits: she was also the founder of the American observance of Mother's Day.

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Battle Hymn of the Republic

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnished rows of steel;
“As ye deal with My contemners, so with you My grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free;
[originally …let us die to make men free]
While God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave;
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of wrong His slave,
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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