In the ghetto

“Pottersville.” This is a blighted, decrepit, unwholesome, and altogether unpleasant place to be.

This area around the far corner of the house was named for the debris from potting plants. Empty pots, dead and dying plants, and bags of weeds clutter the space. Old lawn chairs stacked in the middle are being used for nothing more than bird perches, and for the accompanying mess that accompanies that.

Stray hoses wind precariously around the pots, threatening to snag the ankles of unwary visitors.

In the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the name is used for the ugly alternate world where the reluctant hero, George Bailey, didn’t live.

As an alternate world to my usually well-kept garden beds, this is the place where weaker plants go. Some are destined for the ominous “Death Bed,” the worst part of this plant Gehenna.

This dismal area within Pottersville was so named because we used an old metal futon frame in which to place the pots that needed to be emptied of their dirt and the remains of deceased plants. It looks like a literal bed…of death.

At the other edge of Pottersville is the infamous “pot ghetto,” not a nice place for plants to live, but adequate while they await planting or giving away.

Some, frankly, don’t make it. Occasionally, the heat of summer and lack of adequate water does them in before they can be re-homed. Some end up in the Death Bed.

Unlike the Pottersville in the movie, this whole area is a necessary evil. There can be no collection of healthy plants in pretty garden beds without a work area to let the plants get started on the road to glory.

Those black bags filled with weeds is where the anaerobic composting takes place. It will yield good, nutritious soil supplement for coming seasons. The pot ghetto holds transitional plants where they are most likely to receive regular watering from that treacherous hose.

Even the Deathbed yields potting soil and pots that will be recycled and used again for something wonderful, and once in a while a plant even revives in it.

It just doesn’t look pretty while it’s happening.

Do you ever feel like life is ugly? Do you feel like you dwell in Pottersville? Do your projects and dreams shrivel and die like the droopy, brown viburnum in the pot ghetto, when you had plans for them? Yeah, mine too.

It would probably help my outlook if I would look at my personal failures as a “work area.” You know, like the old saying, “Please have patience with me, God isn’t finished with me yet.”

As a gardener, I cringe whenever visitors meander out past the pretty parts of the yard and discover Pottersville. As a Christian, I am equally mortified when my fellow saints find ugliness and weakness in my own life.

This may be natural, but it’s not the way that God intended it to be.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16, NASB).

God also intended for us to pray for one another as we go through life’s hurts, whether or not it’s of our own doing.

Like my rotting weeds, some of my life is stinky and slimy and decaying. When I open those bags up in the fall, there will be sweet smelling dark compost in them, ready to feed my beloved plants. Will I allow good to come of the rotten things that come my way? I hope so.

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