The weeds

The good and the bad

taiteilija: Simberg, Hugo
Inventaarionro A II 1703
teosnimi: Haavoittunut enkeli
haltija: ...
04 June 2022

Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’  He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’  But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

Mathew 13, 24-30

Every night, and every day, the discord grows silent around me and within me. At six in the morning, every morning, as the coffee rises, still dazed with sleep, I unload the dishwasher, in a cramped kitchen where hungry dogs and cats obstruct my movements. I irritably throw the dishes into the cupboard, the milk boils and spills onto the cooker, but there is no time to clean up. Pet food overflows from the bowls, and lay there scattered on the floor, while the dogs and cats munch in silence, casting intimidated glances at me. I call upstairs to the children, yelling to them that it is time to get up, to have breakfast, that the clothes and backpacks are not ready yet and neither are their mid-morning snacks. Then they wake up stunned, agitated, and the little one starts accusing her sister of taking her pink sweatshirt. It is already seven o’clock and the sweatshirt cannot be found, and of course it can’t be found because your room is a mess and everything you don’t feel like folding away you throw on the floor or put in the wash!

At half past seven, I go to the car and start the engine to warm it up. As I sound the horn because the children have to hurry down, I look up and see the rounded peak of Subasio mountain, which is framed in blue, covered with fresh snow. When I had opened the shutters at dawn, I did not notice that it had snowed last night. The summit is like an enormous soft pandoro cake, sprinkled with icing sugar, beckoning everyone to come and sit at the table of a party.

This is where I would like to go, to that good white of peace. I want to go there with the children, with the dogs, with the cats too, because on my own I would not know what to do with that dazzling serenity. Therefore, when the children dive into the car with their school aprons still untied, and I read their fear of me in the rear-view mirror, I feel ashamed. I fix my eyes on Subasio and its defenselessness, and that joyful white covering helps to disinfect my heart from the scrambling blackness; and remissively I let it act. To wrench myself in guilt would return me to the seductive prisons of my ego. This is how I accept myself. I accept myself as being a limited and exposed field, where seeds germinate and produce bad and good plants, which I find difficult to distinguish. They are seeds that are not mine. Nevertheless, I do not want to be afraid; instead, I learn meekness. It is up to me, a field, to live and endure the senselessness of evil, to welcome it within and outside of me. This, while knowing that, unexpectedly, sudden as a flash of a sword, like a blow that light, that discernment comes. Just when the clawing weeds seem to be about to overwhelm the wheat. It is then that the enemy reveals their face and the cultivated field can finally become a battlefield. As I resist evil’s charges, and remain with my gaze fixed on the grain in whose name we fight.

On this cold February morning, I recognise an unthinkable joy that threatened to escape me and instead blossomed in the field, for me, just for me, which is the beauty of the snow, the presence of my children. I turn on the radio and we speed off to school singing. First hesitantly, then loudly.

In the painting entitled The Wounded Angel, by the Finnish painter Hugo Simberg, two boys have, like me, had the opportunity to perceive the evil within themselves and react to it. They carry a wounded angel on a stretcher. They had not expected this role reversal, for it was they who were the ones who had to be guided, helped, and rescued. They were the ones who devoutly recited the guardian angel’s prayer every night, before falling asleep peacefully, their consciences clear of compunction. However, one afternoon, in a meadow near the house, they had quarreled furiously, and anger and hatred had flared up within them, their hearts had turned black, their tongues had hissed violent and poisonous words.

The reason is now hard to remember.

He had tried to calm them down with sweet, heartfelt words, which had been whispered in their minds, and had attempted to separate them by floating between the boys who were beginning to fight. In doing so, the guardian angel had injured a wing and fallen. At the sound of the thud the two boys had stopped quarrelling. Before them, astonished they saw a bleeding angel in their midst, and as they looked into each other’s eyes for what seemed to be the longest time, the hatred faded and, now freed, they became two boys again. The shame they felt growing within them did not paralyze them, for with sticks they made a stretcher and one of them pulled a white handkerchief out of his jacket pocket to bandage the angel’s excoriated temples. From now on, they would cure him, and it would be they who would protect and comfort him. So that he may forgive them, they gather a bunch of daffodils and, quickening their pace, they set off with care.

by Elena Buia Rutt