For as long as I have lived in my house, you have claimed a spot in the back left corner of my lot. I avoid you; teach my children and the neighbor kids to do the same. Several years ago, my neighbor went after you with poison but that only made you more robust; while he, ironically, got cancer. This year, I notice you encroaching closer to my raised beds and compost bin.
You spread at the same time I read Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. At the same time I become aware of plants as sentient beings who feel, form community, have will and agency. Which is to say, I glimpse the possibility of another type of relationship.
So I approach you with reverence:
"You are here for your own reasons and for Earth's reasons of which I am completely unaware. I acknowledge these purposes are beyond my seeing, understanding, and sense of time. I acknowledge you have your own agenda and you are on your own journey as I am on mine. You have a right to be where you want to be. And yet. I do not want you here."
Keen to understand what gifts plants bring us by their way of being in the world, I recall a conversation in my herbalism apprenticeship. Your being--we determined--says, 'Stay back. If you cross me, you will pay.' And suddenly, the pins, tumblers, discs and levers within a locked place inside me click and I open.
"You have been here all along offering to teach me boundaries. How often I said yes when I meant and felt no. How often I trespassed my own instincts. Made myself a doormat then festered in lingering irritation. You were speaking to me, but I could not hear you. Until now."
I am not practiced in making something I don't want, go away artfully. I am practiced in smoldering until I rage, create devastation with my unheeded need. What do you have to teach me about how to be artful in claiming space and setting boundaries? How do I summon and embody you when I need to? Did I mention you spread in my yard at the same time I want to venture beyond my self-imposed limits?
"Thank you for what I'm learning from you, for your faithful presence through the years. I did not know you are a plant ally, too. Though I can't eat, make a poultice, tea, or salve out of your physical body like other members of the plant family, I can ingest and slather your energy all over myself. You are a reminder that I carry my own boundaries. When I come across what will cause me suffering, I can call up your powerful no. When my sense of obligation and relational expectations converge similar to the red pinpoint convergence of your leaves to stem, I will remember you. Recall how you create a do-not-enter-zone for yourself. How I can create one for myself."
Water percolates deepest through permeable membranes and it is the same with knowledge. I do not learn about other beings without learning about myself too. I travel farther in the journey without when I journey within, allowing knowing to flow beyond brain to heart and gut to relationship.
"I speak to you now respectfully through the lessons I've learned from you. But I will say this again, clearly, emphatically. I do not want your physical presence here any more. I will instead carry your teachings within me. To transition you away from my home, I will uproot you after the next rain. First, I will ask you to please leave my property to go bless someone else. Then, while I put your physical body in a bag, I will sing gratitude as I receive your energy. After, I will reflect on places in my life where you will guide me. And I will fill the empty places where you once were with my expanded presence. "
Maybe, actually, we first know a thing through our gut and heart. Isn't that where we feel when our boundaries have been breached? But we've learned to shunt knowing into our minds and trap it there, so we and our knowing stay small. Maybe that is why we avoid. Why we suffer so.