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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Immigrant roots

What’s brought in on an immigrant’s feet,
In their bags, a bushel of wheat?
A seed softly planted in this land,
So small and unnoticed like sand
And after years, hiding underground,
Setting down roots it is found
Pernicious and invasive,
Binding everything around
To be like them and defiling many.

Convolvulus arvensis – Field Bindweed I’m talking about. The morning glory like weed, the worst weed ever, brought by immigrants from Europe and Asia, first noticed in Virginia in 1730. Now it is everywhere! One of my ancestors planted his feet in Jamestown in 1610 only to turn back to England a few years later, perhaps the damage was done.

I noticed it in our island garden in 2002, after returning from England during 9/11. We created a long border on our homesteaded land. The vine was first ignored by a hired gardener thinking it a rare plant, little did they know. It looks so small, spreading laterally over the newly cultivated long border and then tendrils reaching out to any plant beside it to twine it into a bunch. No individuality near the bindweed in the border, or freedom of movement, suffocating control instead. The song “Bind us together Lord,” comes to mind. Last Sunday our barely practiced worship team prayed for unity of the Spirit in our song since initially we weren’t working together well. God’s Spirit caused us to have diversity yet sing together for His glory. Only You, Lord, can move our spirits to work in unity without sacrificing the individuality of each of us in song. So much different then the binding of this weed.

But the worst bindweed work is underground. I read in "Common Weeds of the United States," that the roots are called “Man-underground.” The root storage stem, way out of proportion to its spindly tendrils, buried at the depth at which we store corpses, even 9 feet, grow as long and as thick as a man’s leg and can weigh up to 30 pounds! From this main root come lateral roots spreading over 4 feet on either side about 2-4 feet below the surface. This is much worse than I thought. Pulling the weeds only encourages the root to spread and chopping the root multiplies it like the brooms in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, “gladly suffering the hoe, gaily chopped to bits, it clones a new bindweed from each severed fragment.” The only way to eradicate it is to fork out the whole garden and cover it with plastic for 5 years and even then the 9 foot buried storage system root sends up shoots even after 50 years! What possible use is this weed? I read that Navahos drank an infusion of bindweed root if they swallowed a spider. Now that is stretching it. How often have you swallowed a spider?

I have been researching its demise for years. So this week, on a sunny day when the tulips and narcissus and grape hyacinth were dropping their petals, beginning to croak and the perennials starting to bud, before the bindvines started to choke, I took out my watercolor brush and a glass jar and started to paint convolvulus leaves…. with Roundup, Glyphosate herbicide, poison to the bindweed. So as not to kill surrounding plants, I painted each elongated heart shaped bindweed leaf separately. It’s the only way to possibly eradicate it, with diligence and patience. The poison gets literally to the root of the problem I hope.

But you Lord made this plant. Perhaps it is to point out the huge problem we all fight in our lives, bigger than bindweed. The roots go deep. “See that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15
Does a bitter root of long forgotten unforgiveness or past hurts or generational strongholds thrive in me causing trouble and defiling others? I ask Christ to come into my life to help me to deal with or remove the above ground controlling and enslaving sprout vine troubles. But it is the hidden roots, either generational or forgotten unforgiveness for hurts past that keep the sprouts of pain and trouble coming. I bring to your cross these patterns of pain that stem from these roots that can only be eradicated by you and ask your forgiveness for my unforgiving spirit and ask your demise of generational strongholds perhaps even brought by our immigrant ancestors. Only you can get rid of this root of mine. And thank you Lord for the reminder through the hated bindweed.

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