I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
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The Title Lesson
July 21, 2013Posted by on
One of the struggles with this book was keeping the title intact. Once I came up with what is discussed below, I knew the title had to be Weed Therapy. Unfortunately, that title evokes other, unrelated ideas in people. No, it’s not a book about pot, mary jane, reefer, ganja … you get the idea. The only mind-altering substance that makes an appearance in Weed Therapy is Tecate. And, maybe a little religion as well, depending on how you want to read things. That religion plays such a role will probably be a shock to those who know me.
So, with that said …
The old priest was in his church, kneeling at the altar with his head bowed so low it was a wonder he hadn’t fallen forward onto the cool stone surface that spread out between him and the display at the front of the church. A single candle burned on the ground before him. I leaned against the door frame and waited for Father Santos to finish his prayers. His mutters and whispers reached me through the still of the morning. Every once in a while he crossed himself and looked up at the figure of Jesus on the cross. He would bow his head again and resume his pleas to his god. For a man who claimed not to be a real priest, he seemed to be playing the role rather well.
Just as my stomach rumbled for the first time, the old priest rose from his knees. His voice rose slightly with a sharp word or two, no doubt brought about by the pain in his joints. I could hear the creaks and cracks all the way at the back of the church. He stood for a few more seconds with his head bowed, crossed himself one more time, and turned to walk down the small aisle between the pews.
“Ah, Señor Rockwell.” He smiled and walked past me on his way out the door. Before he got too far, he turned back and looked again at me. “Do you need to pray?”
“Uh. No. No, that’s okay.”
“Bueno. The church is always open for your prayers.” He turned back and walked towards the little house behind the church. When he opened the door, he made a show of sniffing the air. “Isabella must have come, no?”
“A woman brought a plate of food.”
“Was she beautiful?”
“Well,” I hesitated. Here was a priest, real or not, discussing the looks of a woman who was many, many years younger than him.
“It is okay. I am still a man,” he chuckled.
“Yes. She was beautiful.”
“Then it was Isabella. In little Santo Cielo, there is no other like her.” I could definitely agree with Father Santos that Isabella was beautiful.
“Come. Let us eat, if you have not already done so,” Father Santos said, crossing the threshold into his home. Father Santos sat at the table and lifted the towel. “Ah, you have much more patience than I.” On the tray were two plates piled with scrambled eggs and bacon. Another towel-wrapped bundle no doubt held more of Isabella’s tortillas. In a bowl in the center was a diced orange fruit.
“Please. Sit.” As I did so, Father Santos bowed his head. “Something I should have done last night, but I manage to forget now and then,” he said with a grin. Another stream of quiet Spanish followed as he clasped his hands together. With a clap of his hands, he finished and ordered, “Eat.”
We were silent while we ate, except when I asked Father Santos what the fruit was. “It is mamey sapote.
“It’s very good.” It tasted almost like pumpkin but was very sweet. “I’ve never had it before.”
“Mamey sapote is native to this land. Maybe, tomorrow, you will try sapodilla or cherimoya. They are sweet like nothing you have ever had before. Better than candy.”
We ate in silence for a few more moments. A silence broken only by the old man’s lips smacking together as he ate and the scrape of our forks on the cheap ceramic plates. Once our plates were clear — I used the last tortilla to wipe everything off my plate to make sure I got it all — Father Santos piled the plates on the tray and put it by the door.
“Come,” he said. I followed him out the door. From the side of the house, he took a pail and handed it to me. “The garden needs to be weeded.” I looked at the flowers that nestled up against the house and could see barely a sign of a weed. I looked at Father Santos questioningly.
“Por favor, look. There are weeds. Debe desherbar su jardin cada dia.” He returned my gaze and placed a fist to his forehead. “Señor, you must weed your garden every day, so that what weeds there are do not have a chance to spread.” I bent down and could see, in a few places, small shoots of green just beginning to break the surface of the dirt. “Otherwise, your garden will not grow as it should. The flowers will not be as beautiful.”
Later on Kelvin has an opportunity to describe what this lesson really means in the context of his life and frustrations. I’ll let you read the book to learn Kelvin’s explanation. For me, it’s as simple as this.
Leaving a note behind for your loved one. A note that says something as simple as “I Love You” or “I Want You.”
Touching your significant other. Physicallly, emotionally, intellectually, intimately. (I’ll come back to that in a moment.)
Sharing your worst fears and greatest hopes.
And listening when those you love share theirs. With an open heart and an open mind.
It’s daily gestures. Yes. Daily. Small and large. Daily. It’s telling your significant other you love him or her. Not in that passing way, almost like a throw away line. No, it’s stopping her, holding him, looking into her eyes, and saying, “I love you, I really do.”
It’s this … just like a garden is dirty … getting down in the dirt and muck of the relationship and cleaning it out. Every single relationship has it. Dirt and muck. Digging at the weeds, pulling them out by the roots and discarding them so they can’t fester and grow, spreading their roots under the surface to pop up later on, farther down the garden. The only time I’ve experienced true, unconditional love, meaning a relationship without the muck, was when my children were born. For those first few years with each of them, I loved them. It made no difference what they did or didn’t do, I loved them and I would do anything and everything I could for them. To keep them safe.
But let’s be serious, eventually every single relationship we have develops weeds. The question is what you’re doing to do to keep the weeds at bay. Small gestures can do wonders. But to me it comes back to engaging in the intimate aspects of the human existence. And, here’s where women everywhere are probably saying … yeah, figures, he’s talking about sex. No, actually, I’m not (although making love to and with your spouse — not having sex — can be a huge gesture). I’m talking about those quiet moments when two people who claim to love each other share things they don’t share with anybody else. Go back to the list above. Leaving a note with words that you could only share with that one person. Touching in a way that is reserved for your significant other. Trusting like no other to hear and understand and help resolve those fears and dreams. And doing the same in return.
I have often described a marriage as a relationship like no other in a person’s existence. Why? Because it is the only relationship where you choose somebody, another adult, to be a part of you and your life supposedly for the rest of your existence. You make a promise of something. And that promise should mean something. It also means that there should be something different between the two of you. Different than every other relationship you have. As a result, there are words and touches and thoughts and experiences and efforts that should be reserved for that person.
You weed the garden of your marriage, you keep it bright and colorful, by remembering that. Always remembering that. You made a choice that this person was the one. Act like it. Keep the weeds away.
What do you think?