Thistles! In my freshly dug and planted perennial beds! Beds that are carefully mulched to keep out weeds. A weed so prickly that I can’t just remove it with my bare hands, but have to get a trowel and my gardening gloves to try and get rid of it. I chose this picture this week because of the tenacity of the weeds. It thrives despite my efforts to eradicate it.
I have watched my father display that same tenacity following an unexpected cancer diagnosis at the beginning of the summer. He was admitted to the hospital last week; his body has been poisoned by six weeks of daily, sometimes twice a day, radiation treatments for tongue cancer. The last few weeks have been especially hard on him and of course, on my mother. He stopped driving a few weeks ago and so my siblings and I have been taking turns driving him and our mother to his treatments. If you have ever been in a cancer treatment centre, you will know the tenacity of both the patients and the staff. People, like my father, resolutely walking in each day, knowing that the treatment that will hopefully help, will at first hurt. Treatment that must destroy part of the body in order to save the whole of the body. Treatment that may render them ill, weak, and dependent and yet still, they walk in. Sometimes it seems as if the cancer’s tenacity to devour the body will overcome the body’s tenacity to live and thrive. That tenacity is mirrored in the technicians I met. I can only imagine what it is like to administer treatment like that every day, to many different people of all ages.
How does this image of a thistle reflect God and a sense of the sacred? The thistle reminds me of how tenacious God is in wanting a relationship with me. That relationship may very well feel prickly at times. In fact, there are times when I actively avoid reaching for God, as if God had prickles, or as if I need protective gear. And there are many times that I am prickly, using whatever means necessary to keep God at bay.
How is this image inviting me into a deeper relationship with the sacred in my life? Perhaps there are reasons, good reasons to be prickly and keep up barriers. Perhaps the insistence of keeping something or someone at bay is a lifesaver.But then the question becomes, do I need to maintain barriers with God? Is there any part of my life that God cannot reach? Where is my life not touched by the sacred?
The wide reach of the tenacious thistle also reminds me of our persistent and determined God, who continues to reach for each one of us, despite our protective casings.
And that's my window on God's world.