Removing the Weeds – both literally and metaphorically

Following on from last year’s Tree Planting event during the Season of Creation, for our Lenten activity, members from the St Ignatius Green Movement Ministry and Jesuit Refugee Service volunteers, along with a visiting priest Fr Augustine Shwe, participated in the Invasive Species Management programme by NPARKS. Jesus warns of the choking influence of the metaphorical thorns and weeds in our lives so our focus for Lent was not so much on planting but rather on pruning (or weeding to be more precise!).

We trudged through muddy soil and thorny bushes at Rifle Range Nature Park, keeping our eyes peeled for the “Batman” plant — earning itself such a name due to the likeness of its leaves to the trademark sign — an invasive species which, if left to grow, would impair the long-term growth of young saplings and native plants. This labour-intensive work is part of NPARKS’ ongoing effort to protect Singapore’s biodiversity. Despite the back-breaking work, our fellow Green Movement ministry members and JRS volunteers had great fun and satisfaction uprooting and collecting several bags of “Batman”.

Below are some of the feedback we received from participants:

“So meaningful to come together during Lent to do our part for Our Common Home.”

“Thanks for a fruitful afternoon with fellow weed warriors, a Lenten project blessed by Father.”

Some “Batman” plants had crept really high up the trees so we had to untangle to remove them, which involved quite a bit of strength! Also, the turnip-like roots belonging to the older plants required some strength and technique to uproot so they do not regenerate (they are very hardy plants).

Removing the weeds – both literally and metaphorically
Our weeding warriors.

Reflecting on the experience as we said a prayer to close the activity, we also felt compelled to ponder further: what are the weeds in our lives that are hindering our spiritual growth? What can we do to remove them so as to produce more fruits of the Spirit?

Written by Vu Tien Vy, from the Church of St Ignatius Green Movement Ministry. The article was first published in the Church of St Ignatius bulletin.