St. Maximilian Kolbe wrote:
The more light of God’s grace within a soul, the better we will see the weeds and imperfections at every step. The Sacred Scriptures say that a just man falls seven times daily. So as long as we live we must pull out weeds.1
When you pull weeds from a garden, you never know what you’ll find. There will almost certainly be more work to do: bare ground to reseed, more weeds to pull, or, perhaps, disease to treat. Removing the weeds should make the garden better — and it does, ultimately — but, first, it uncovers worse.
This is true, also, of the garden of our soul. When we pull weeds — when we pull out some bad habit, some sin — we will find something more underneath. We may find a greater expression of some fault we knew, or we may be surprised to find something unknown. We may find something that feels more discouraging than the fault we first pulled out, that we pulled with possibly weeks or months or years of prayer and effort.
St. Kolbe didn’t teach this to discourage his students, and it shouldn’t discourage us.
We cannot see the tiny particles of dust in a room until a ray of sun shines through. The same is true of our souls. If they have plenty of God’s light, they will see the dust that covers them.2
Yes, we will see the dust. We’ll find the weeds in the garden — the weeds, the dirt, the disease, the sin. But only when we see it can we address it. Only when we see it, can we work to clear it away.
Moreover, when we see the weeds, it’s because the sun is shining. We can see them because we’ve been given light to see by. We can only see them by the grace of God which means we have something more than weeds — we have the grace of God! If we see by God’s light, then we have God’s light. God is with us.
We can only see those bad things with “plenty of God’s light”, as St. Kolbe tells us, so when we see them, we should remember how and be glad.
Copyright 2015, Joe Wetterling
1. Maximilian Kolbe, All for the Immaculata: Conferences of St. Maximilian Kolbe 1919-1937.