I took this picture of dandelions in our local churchyard. Earlier in the year this space was occupied by crocuses, all purple and planted in serried ranks.

Most gardeners like crocuses but dislike dandelions, taking particular exception to them when they spring up unbidden on their lawns. They are sturdy flowers with a highly succesful method of disseminating themselves on the wind. And since they are so succesful and so difficult to eliminate, they are classified as weeds. And this is where I hit a problem of theology, not confined to those dandelions I discover in churchyards.

I have often heard it said that God cteated all living things. For those who take this view, it follows that God must have created dandelions (not to mention mosquitoes and viruses). In which case I cannot accept that God created weeds. And what is the point in God creating them only to find gardeners trying to exterminate them with chemical weed killers? Instead of attacking them, gardeners of faith must surely accept this wonderful gift from God with a good heart.

Moving on from the plant to the animal kingdom, exactly the same problem arises with animals categorised as vermin such as rats and foxes. Are we really to believe that God created vermin?

What a mess

Said my friend, referring to a pavement with many weeds growing along it. The weeds should be zapped with weed-killer.

Looking at it from a theological perspective I can see no justification for the term ‘weed’. All living things have been created by God yet my friend, and many others, have decided that some of them are undesirable and should be killed. This cannot be right.

The pavement, on the other hand, was created by man, and it is hard to see why the man-made should take precedence over divine creation. In my capacity as the Reverend Rod, I cannot justify this. Let the weeds take over the world.

Furthermore, as the surface of the planet is gradually covered by pavements, car parks and buildings, I have to ask where the Lord’s water is supposed to go when it rains. One thing is sure, it will not refresh the soil underneath the ever increasing acreage of concrete and tarmac. (Has anyone attempted to measure what percentage of the earth’s soil has already been lost to us?)

Soil is usually taken for granted but is actually of great importance. To quote the beginning of the Wikipedia article on the subject:

Soil is the mixture of minerals, organic matter, gases, liquids and a myriad of organisms that can support plant life. It is a natural body that exists as part of the pedosphere and it performs four important functions: it is a medium for plant growth; it is a means of water storage, supply and purification; it is a modifier of the atmosphere; and it is a habitat for organisms that take part in decomposition and creation of a habitat for other organisms.

Soil profile 236x288 38.76 KB. Units are inches.

Soil profile 236×288 38.76 KB. Units are inches. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we drove along the Lang Loan my friend also took a dim view of the verges. Some of the plants were approaching three feet in height. She would like to tidy them up but, there again, I have a problem. Look closely and we see that the verge is a habitat supporting many species of plants, insects, birds and small mammals, and I can find no support in scripture for moving in with our mechanical mowers and killing them all off.

Is being neat and tidy really such a good thing? Not when it comes to Nature.

Let the verges flourish, saith the preacher.