I visited Mount Vernon with some new friends yesterday. As we were walking by the tobacco plants on the left, two of the history interpreters were there to tell us about how they cared for the plants. Every single day they would go through each plant and do two things:
1.They would look over each plant and search for worms, then take them off and squish them immediately. The worm they found while we were talking to them was very small, no bigger than the tip of a fingernail, and couldn’t do much damage. However, they told us that if they don’t catch the worms and kill them while they are small, they can quickly grow to be the size of an index finger, where they can consume upwards of one leaf a day, causing massive amounts of damage. The tobacco farmers have to be proactive, constantly keeping an eye out for the worms to make sure they get rid of them before their impact is felt and the damage has been done.
2. Every day, they would go through each plant and “succor” the plant, removing any new leaves that were beginning to grow. Most people would assume that the more leaves a plant has, the better, and that those leaves are a sign of thriving. These men explained to us that in order for the plant to thrive, they have to limit the number of leaves. This allows those select leaves to grow to the point where they can be used, tearing off those leaves that are pulling away the nutrients allows the plant to thrive and fulfill it’s full purpose.
I couldn’t help but think about how our spirituality is like each of those plants. As we work to become our best selves, part of that means actively working to get rid of things that are harming us, even before the damage seems significant. It means constantly being willing to do regular checks to make sure that we are safe. We have to work daily to remove small “worms” before they become big problems.
Since my visit I have also been pondering the ways my Heavenly Father and Savior have succored me. To succor means to “give assistance or aid to”. I can think of many times Heavenly Father has given me aid by telling me to get rid of something that I loved, something that I thought was making me greater, in order to allow me to truly thrive. The Lord has succored me by tearing off pieces of my life that are not important. I can’t always understand why some parts are taken from me, because I am not the one who knows how to grow this plant. He knows. He has pulled away my extra leaves in order to allow me to grow and fulfill my purpose. He is the farmer, and He is allowing me to thrive.