May 2020

We have a particularly pernicious weed in our backyard perennial beds – one that spreads by runners that snake over, under, around and through everything else. A bishop's weed, I think. I have been more determined than usual, this spring, in my battles against it. I've gotten out early, when the invited and welcome plants are still emerging, when it's easier to tell what's weed and what isn't. I've been vigilant, approaching the task methodically, section by section. It's very satisfying when a patch is done. Until a few hours later, or the next day when I look again. How did I miss those?

This has made me think of my husband Booker's cousin Andy. Andy is an African American version of a Southern good ol' boy, who raises chickens for Purdue on what used to be their grandfather's Georgia farm. He loves hunting, fishing, fancy cars, good bourbon and a good story.

"I'm on 1-75, heading home," he remembers. "Minding my own business. I see those flashing lights way, way back behind me. Dang! – he better not be after me. I ease up a little, get into the right lane to let him go by. Now he's behind me, turns on the siren. Big white guy in a big white cruiser. I pull over, roll down my window, wait for him to get out and come on over.

'What can I do for you, Officer?' I say. He pulls out his ticket book. Wants to know if I know how fast I was going. I don't. Or if I do I'm not confessing. He starts to write me up, and this Chevy comes flying out of no­where, whizzing past us nearly blowing him over – had to be going a hundred and twenty. Or more. We both watch it disappear. I say, 'Officer, what about that guy?'

He shakes his head. ‘Son,’ he says. ‘It's like fishin'. You don't get 'em all.’”

That's been my mantra, weeding. "You don't get 'em all."

We don't get 'em all. Not all the fish nor all the weeds. Not all the right answers or all the right questions. Andy's story brings a smile and a reminder to be gentle with ourselves. To accept that we and those we love are imperfect, and that what we do is imperfect. To let ourselves fall apart when we need to fall apart, to forgive ourselves when we lose our resolve. What we are going through is hard. And May's theme is observing sabbath. Sabbath time is a time for spaciousness, for letting the fishing line drift, for putting down the trowel and dreaming of what will bloom in days to come.

Spring has arrived. We are apart, and we are here for each other.

I am grateful to be your minister.Janets signature