Busy Berm


Our house on Lake Norman was built in 1996 and is as modern as the date states. Since it is of the newer era, there is a sixty-foot berm between it and the house of our neighbor. There is no need to complain about such matters because that is the way things were done, just like all eras of any culture. However, ….

The landscaper that built and planted the berm must have believed that “more is better.” In the sixty feet are three crepe myrtles, two hollies, five azaleas, two dogwoods, one unknown species of evergreen bush, and one camellia. That is what remains after we had two hollies removed and all plants professionally pruned. We did not commit “crepe murder”, so they have tall, strong limbs that are about to bloom, giving the berm an umbrellaed look, and one large gap where a holly grew gives a view to and from our neighbor. Yet, the berm plants still need thinning so that all its plants can get light and fill out into their natural selves., especially the ageing azaleas that struggle under the canopy of dogwoods, crepe myrtles, and the holly.

When it was planted, all the trees, shrubs, and plants were small, so the berm was pleasing to look see. The black, landscape matting gave a false promise of no weeds growing in the berm, and the top layer of mulch gave it all an appearance of controlled, natural beauty. Then the plants did what they do, they grew in height and size. They spread their limbs reaching for sunlight. They sent out roots in search for water. They became competitors, and some won more than others, but the fight was so fierce that there was no winner, just sixty feet of exhausted warriors. Because of poor foresight or just not caring, the once fine-looking berm had expanded into a frightful mess. For the sake of the berm, some plants had to be removed, killed.  The berm has been a constant reminder for Mary Ann and me since we moved here nine months ago. As we plant our flower gardens, we are conscious of not planting too much. The temptations of Brawley’s Garden Center are many, but we remind ourselves that everything we plant will require space, water, and attention.  In years hence, we do not want our flower gardens to look like the berm did, but to be a joy to share and see.

So many modern lives are like our berm—overplanted. We accumulate items in the belief that the wealth of our lives is stated in how much stuff we have. We commit to more and more charities, committees, luncheons, and such as if our worth as a person is tallied in how busy we are. We purchase houses and automobiles beyond our means to stay in the running of the race to financial ruin. The landscaping fabric of our lives, cheap credit and empty promises and beliefs, will not keep out weeds, but  eventually be covered by dirt and seeds that will sprout into unwanted growth.

Like any gift giver, God does not dictate what each of us does with His precious gift of life. Our free will allows us to spend our years on earth as we wish. But the life overfilled with things, commitments of all types, and desires of the world is like an over-planted berm that will  one day be too crowded to bloom as it should and full of unwanted growth.


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