On Thistles and the Fall

I am joining in on the “epic blogging challenge” of “7 posts in 7 days“, motivated by Jen of the 7 quick takes. I plan to have a post everyday this week Monday-Sunday.


I finally have a yard this summer and now finally have a garden. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I have been fighting off a thistle that is in my tomato and basil vegetable garden. Every time I go out to the garden there is a new shoot of this creeping thistle, and every time I dig it up I can’t help but think of sin. And how sin is something we have to dig up and seek the root of to be rid of it.

A thistle coming up (again) in the shade of my tomato plant.

If I break the thistle off and not get the whole root it will grow back again and again. The thing about this thistle in my garden is that no one did any gardening last year and this thistle was allowed to run wild. It is a creeping thistle which means that it creeps underground with the same root system. I don’t think there is any way for me to pull up all the roots of this thistle; I will just have to keep on digging up the sprouts as they come up and they have spread into at least a ten foot diameter circle of area. Eventually I will wear down the plant. My other option is an herbicide, but here is the thing, it is a garden where I hope to grow food for myself and my family, so digging it is.

Creeping thistle on the lawn of the ecclesial community behind our home.
I will have to go around and did them up!

I never understood what a thistle was like until I met one in person, and a few weeks ago I heard this passage at Mass from Matthew 7:15-16:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?”

Knowing what a thistle was like made this passage make so much more sense. I thistle just won’t go away and it is prickly and will choke out other plants. It takes a lot of water to grow, so it will take water from the plants around it. In no way does it bear good fruit except the seeds of more thistles. It makes a great example of sin in our lives. Then reading in Genesis, I discovered that thistles are described as one of the consequences of the Fall:

“And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, `You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

It is only just that thistles grow in my garden; laboring with weeds is only part of growing my own food. So, I will fight this thistle, and use it as an opportunity to grow in virtue, offer up the annoyance of weeding the same weed over and over, and hopefully eat some yummy tomatoes and basil this summer.

P.S. According to Wikipedia (see “Uses”) the roots and the leaves of thistles are edible, the taproot being the most nutritious. However, since it represents sin, it has the uncomfortable and socially awkward side affect of flatulence.

3 thoughts on “On Thistles and the Fall”

  1. Your PS sounds straight out of good ol' Clement ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Also — by "ecclesial community behind the house"…do you mean, what, a little Baptist church, or what? ๐Ÿ™‚

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