Have I lived enough?
Have I loved enough?
Have I considered Right Action enough, have I come to any conclusion?
Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?
Have I endured loneliness with grace?
I say this, or perhaps I'm just thinking it. Actually, I probably think too much.
Then I step out into the garden, where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man, is tending his children, the roses.
A poem by Mary Oliver
When I was a little girl in Rhode Island, my next door neighbor was Mr. Channing. He was a quiet, gentle man who taught at a private school in Connecticut. He was someone who was very agrarian by nature. Living right next door, my family knew that his family life was difficult so I think, looking back on it, this is why when he was home he would spend most of his time outside with his children, and all of the neighborhood children. We all looked forward to his presence as he joined us in whatever we were doing at the moment. He was a wonderful cheerleader who offered his deep wisdom from the sidelines as we learned to do important things such as how to climb trees properly by shimmying up a branch, how to find clams whilest waist deep in the Barrington River, how to build a fire to cook the clams, how to play badminton, and how to play Monopoly (no one in the neighborhood ever beat him in this even though we tried for many years).
Another thing he did was to tend a vegetable garden which ran alongside our property line. The first year he did this, I was about 8 or 9 years old. He began in the spring by turning over the soil. I, being just as nosy then as I am now, went outside and stood in my yard watching him. I was so enchanted that I grabbed a shovel and began to till my own garden right alongside his, pretending that I knew what I was doing. It happened to just be a coincidence that my garden was right next to his. As the summer progressed whenever he came out to tend his garden, I would too. He would tell me what he was doing and why, and show me how to do it in my own garden. Now years later, I still remember him being my teacher in all things outside. I learned much from this kind gentleman. Now, I am a parent and I continue to garden when I have time. Unfortunately, the busyness of life did not give time for my girls to learn to love it as I did. I am sad about this as they are teenagers now.
As I write this article beforehand and if all went as planned and it did not rain, yesterday we celebrated Rogation Sunday. We gathered in the Bishop Woodland garden and blessed the children’s community garden and planted our seedlings and enjoyed strawberry shortcake together. We will spend these next months during the summer tending the garden and waiting until the vegetables can be harvested. Children, parents, grandparents, and friends will join together in Epiphany's back garden on Sunday mornings to enjoy summer punch, to work in the soil, and to share our own stories and wisdom about gardening:.stories about the soil, the sun, and the people whom we met along the way, stories of shared experiences that bind us together. I look forward to hearing all of your stories this summer.