Filler material

The primary source of help in the garden was “out of commission” this year. He was worried that the yard would be a hot mess. My reply was that the perennial flowers would just come up and bloom anyway, weeds and all, and next year we can clean up around them.

The weeds agreed. The steady rain early in the springtime and the warm temperatures following it ensured that the chickweed, dead nettle, and wild ranunculus thrived! 

So many things are more important than caring for a garden. That’s why our perspective may have to change as we shift priorities. Those little white flowers atop the angled stems of the mouse-ear chickweed could be viewed as a “filler” for the spring blooms, if only we could adjust our thinking slightly. 

The yellow irises really did look great against the backdrop of the shiny yellow wild ranunculus, or “buttercups” as they are known up north. In truth, many of us gardeners allow annuals such as nigella or bachelor’s buttons to grow in among the perennial flowers as a filler. Why not adjust our mindset to appreciate the uninvited ranunculus and chickweed? 

The classic method for creating a garden planter is to use three elements; a “thriller” (something eye-catching), a “spiller” (something to trail gracefully out of the container, and a “filler” (taking up space among the other two types of plants, and filling the gaps.) That filler plant fills up space while the other two elements get all the attention, even though they may be a smaller part of the composite arrangement.

Another use of the word “filler” is in journalism; the “unimportant” stories that take up space around the headline articles. It’s never used as positive descriptor.

Our lives are filled with mundane and even un-fun tasks in between the main events of our days, weeks, and years. Nobody really lives to vacuum carpets or clean toilets. And yet, carpet dirt happens (especially if you have a garden)! 

We do try — and rightly so — to reduce the time spent on tedious, boring, and unpleasant tasks. But let’s face it; our days still contain a lot of “filler.” They always will. 

The challenge to us as we fill our days and weeks and months and years is to make sure that filler is doing its job. As in a planter, our daily tasks must support and complement the more important events of our lives. It is easy to just fill our lives up with stuff that doesn’t do a bit of good for anyone, nor support our true purpose in life – to fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13). 

The other challenge is to find joy and beauty in the mundane “filler” of our days. Shuttling our children back and forth to and from school can be used as quality time together, rather than filling it with time spent with each one listening to their own music through their earbuds. Weeding a garden is time that can be spent in prayer for those who need it. Filler can be useful! 

Like those weeds in the background, our daily filler activities might not be what we would have chosen, but they can still be appreciated and enjoyed. 

We do get to choose some of our filler, too. Let our moments be filled with the awareness of God in our lives. 

Those things which fill our hours must be centered on Jesus Christ, who is “Head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22b-23, NASB).

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