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Plant Your Garden


It was during the Los Angeles riots following the King verdict in ‘92 that Mr. Wayne Muller asked a community organizer — what could possibly be done in response to such suffering? What could possibly be done in response to such violence?


And this organizer answered by saying, “I [want] to plant a garden in my yard. I don’t know how it will help, but I feel like I have to plant something and help it grow.“


And yet when we imagine ourselves receiving such a question, when we imagine ourselves being asked, “What could possibly be done?” don’t we relate to a voice that says, “I [want] to plant a garden, but maybe my gift isn’t big enough.”


I think of our Barbara Thorp – Director of UIL’s Prayer Ministries. Maybe Barbara can relate to a voice that says, “I want to train a team of dedicated volunteers to support people through prayer – people of all ethnicities, all genders, all orientations, all religions, all ages. I want to train a team of dedicated volunteers to support people at the heights and at the depths; across the full spectrum that is any human incarnation, but maybe my gift isn’t big enough.”


I think of Marian Justham, Unity in Lynnwood’s Gift Shop Manager, maybe can relate to a voice that says, “I want to create handmade affirmation cards to remind every guest who steps into my shop of the highest Truths of their being while supporting real people in earning real wages in every corner of this planet while providing vehicles for education and inspiration for today’s UIL — but maybe my gift isn’t big enough.”


And when we imagine ourselves receiving such a question, when we imagine ourselves being asked, “What could possibly be done?” don’t we relate to a voice that says, “I [want] to plant a garden, but maybe my gift isn’t timely enough.


And I think of Unity in Lynnwood’s Local Humanitarian Outreach Ministry. Perhaps you can relate to a voice that says, “We want to choose a random senior from the greater community – someone whom we’ve never met (someone who’s never met us) – and descend upon their home dressed in our blue logo shirts and toting our chainsaws and paint sprayers and dump trailers (and don’t forget the donuts) for a one-day home makeover. But volunteerism is low and money is tight and Covid is serious – maybe our gift isn’t timely enough.”


I think of all Small Group Ministry leaders, perhaps you can relate to a voice that says, “I want to be an advocate for deepening of self and for connecting among people; for but maybe our gift isn’t timely enough.”


And when we imagine ourselves receiving such a question, when we imagine ourselves being asked, “What could possibly be done?” don’t we relate to a voice that says, “I [want] to plant a garden, but maybe my gift isn’t ready enough.”


And I think of the countless volunteers who would continue to serve – not only those visible on Sunday mornings – but those invisible on Monday evenings, invisible on Tuesday afternoons, invisible on Wednesday mornings. I think of Trustees. I think of gardeners. I think of cooks. I think of organizers. I think of artists. I think of teachers. I think of repairers of items and cleaners of things and arrangers of flowers. I think of the volunteers who found windows between the many celebrations of UIL’s faith partners, between the many rituals of community guests, so welcomed at UIL. Perhaps you can relate to a voice that says I want these people to have cool air on their faces, but maybe our gift isn’t ready enough.


And I suppose it can be said that a seed, in and of itself, isn’t big enough, timely enough or ready enough to reveal its fullness. But when you offer that seed to the fertile soil of planet earth, it does what seeds do – it begins to call upon the rich resources which surround it. And as it begins to call upon the rich resources which surround it, it gives rise to its potentials – potentials which we can’t predict!


And I suppose it can be said that a gift, in and of itself, isn’t big enough, timely enough or ready enough to reveal its fullness. But when you follow the examples of those countless helpers – when you offer your gift to the fertile soils of human potential, it does what gifts do – it begins to call upon the rich resources which surround it. And as it begins to call upon the rich resources which surround it, it gives rise to its potentials – potentials which we can’t predict!


Ours is to plant the garden that’s ours to plant.


It strikes me as worthy of note that the most famous of Rabbinic teachers and the most notable among the Christian voices didn’t say, “You are the light of the world. Your job is to let it shine if you think it’s big enough.”


He didn’t say, “Your job is to let it shine if you think it’s timely enough.”


And he certainly didn’t say, “Your job is to let it shine if you think it’s ready enough.”


Like the Buddha and his Eight-fold Path, he taught right action. At no point did he pretend to teach right result.


Ours is to plant the garden that’s ours to plant.


So let us embrace, in the words of the author that, “If we have apples, then apples are our gift. If we have humor, then laughter is our gift. If we can cook, then food is our gift. If we can make music, or hold a hand, or listen or build or love well, these are our gifts.


“We need people to sit with those who are dying. We need people to plant a garden, to cook a meal and share it, to hold a hand and create a moment of sanctuary, to sing a song, to speak a word of kindness into a moment of fear or sadness, to perform a single act of courage, to hum a tune, to dance, so we can remember how light and loving and alive we can be together on the earth.


“Every gift is a drop of water on the stone. Each of us knows some part of the secret, and each of us holds [some] small portion of the light. We can thrive on the earth if we bring what we have and offer it at the family table.”

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And so it is 🙏🏽❤️🙏🏽

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Art Johnson
Art Johnson
Sep 29, 2022

The Gardening metaphor is a powerful one: It's all about cultivating the soil, planting the seeds, nurturing the seedlings over time, keeping the weeds out, and experiencing the miraculous abundant ever-giving Law of Creation, over and over again. And so It is!

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