Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Community Garden in a new light

I’ve been wearing my flippers lately at work, trying to swim harder through the work muck.
Easter came and is still showing signs of renewal. I notice it in nature.

I’ve been hearing a lot about community gardens and sustainable communities, CSA’s. Buying local, pulling in and working on us from within instead of reaching out, way out, for the things we need and want.

I’ve been thinking of a way I can help build that kind of community from where I sit. Sure, bubblegum and pretzels sooth spirits and calm the unsettled souls. A cozy office invites conversation, and the bird feeders are now being emptied daily. Still, an idea for a broader connection with nature and building community through that escapes me. I’ve been thinking and thinking about how to build connections…. I'm not so comfortable in groups of people, but there is nothing more peaceful than visiting with a bed of plants. They are people, too and they want to grow just like people do, and they need help, too. Just like us.

The thought of a community garden thrills me. The thought of a community garden made by, managed and sustaining 3,000 members scares the poison ivy out of me.

When I am trying to figure things out, I tend to fill my time with busi-work. Messychef cooking, or knitting or sewing or gardening- writing. I rent a small townhouse with a little yardette and gardenette and they are lovely, but not enough to sustain my need to figure out some questions knawing at me, so last year I asked a friend if I could work in her yard. I think I’ve overwritten about this. Well,the job is going swell. With money a problem- or lack thereof, I discovered ways to get plants at little or no expense.I sent out on a few neighborhood elists an offer to thin irises, daylilies, daffodils and liripe and got a good response. I discovered that if you hit the shopping centers at just the right time, you can save the plants used for landscaping from a frightful death by bringing along a pitchfork and taking them home when they are being traded out during the seasonal changes.

I’ve traded irises from my house for liripe from a work church friend’s house.
Now, a year into the project things are coming together. This one yard has had a ripple effect. There are plants all over this city from other places in town.

I offered to help a friend at work get her garden started, and now we meet almost weekly and have a wonderful time learning and planting. She is so delightful and willing to accomodate my short time. I mean, all this gardening is not like hiring a landscaping company. A middle aged arthritic woman cannot be compared with a team of workers with tillers. I come equipped with gloves, a pitchfork and short amount of time. These projects are being created one bit at a time.

Children in the preschool have been helpful, and an assistance person helped me once. At work, the maintenance crew helps me with the hose - It's a village. Truly.

I think we are also creating a community garden here at work church with a twist.

A year ago, the grounds were abound with greenery. With the brilliantly colorful idea of my boss, we welcomed spring with a church fronted with daffodils and crocuses that I put to bed in the Fall. The color brought about an awakening in some folks, and so I have been trying to keep the color coming along on the church grounds with the goal being to have something alive and looking good all seasons.

I visited one church member and saw the most beautiful purple blooming plant. I asked if I might thin them out, and move them around and she said very kindly, ‘Have at it. My yard is your yard.” Some of her purple plants are now under the dogwood tree.

Another has been bringing me vinca to add to the starter periwinkle around another tree.
A second friend noticed, and has offered to bring some as well.

Someone heard me mention Lenten rose, and said she’d bring some for me later in the season.

I traded irises with my front desk garden buddy and now we have some of hers and mine popping up like mad.

A member from home church opens her yard to friends, and I have visited her site many times. Work church is holding some of her plants.

I pass one member’s house on my way to work, and inquired about helping her thin her late blooming daffs and I brought her a bag of irises yesterday.

Our work church garden, as well as the other friends who let me piddle in their yards are all benefitting from neighbors’ nature. If that’s not building community, I don’t know what is.
Our community garden is not just one. It has rippled out and multiplied in many good directions.

Friday, April 10, 2009

LIttle Easter

The second high and hearty season of the church is about to peak - so hold on!! There is so much going on around here that the building mortar is trembling. The newly refinished pews are tensing for the masses. The entire staff has been on high test coffee for weeks now, in preparation of this important time in the church.

I have tiptoed into my office and hunkered down every day trying to keep the nut jar, pretzel jar and the bowl of gum full to meet the stress demands, and finally, after I realized sometime last week that the humming I kept hearing was not, in fact, a faulty florescent, but the thinking waves zapping off of staff- well, I just stopped. I just simply s.t.o.p.p.e.d., and I reflected on the season and how much work goes into making the wonderful services that happen here come together and how easy it is if you are one of the artists putting together the puzzle, how easy it is to lose sight of breathing.

I decided to try to slow down the pace a bit but I wasn't sure how to do it. I leaned back in my chair and I tapped my nose and I crossed my arms and I thought. nuthin. I glanced down at the weekly listing of "What's going on at church" " Prayer Labyrinth in the Chapel, Stations of the Cross in the back grounds, Palm Sunday, Prayer and Healing workshop, Floral Cross....." gosh, I felt tired just looking at it all in print... then......AH! Finally an idea beamed into my entangled brain.I looked at gnomey and I looked at sparky the watchbear and I said, "Boys, it's Easter time." I printed a labyrinth off the internet and put it under the tall stool in my office that acts as a side table and I put gnomey and sparky on it and then I waited.

It wasn't long before someone blasted into my office in a rush and instead of jumping to the occasion and thinking ahead to figure out what the inquiry was going to be, I held up my hand in a "stop" position and said in a quiet voice, "Could you please enter in a meditative manner?"
and then I pointed to the stool.

The church organist was the first visitor. We enjoy learning how to read each other and do it pretty well now. We've experienced a few funny trial and errors, but we've gotten into a good grove and he didn't miss a beat. He stopped, followed my pointing finger and looked down. Then he observed the duo "walking" the labyrinth, and he gently respected the moment. You've gotta love that in a church organist.

That type of exchange continued all afternoon. People came and went. I made them aware of the goings on under the stool and they honored the moment. I was really enjoying the staff reactions, and thought it couldn't get any better-then the magic happened.

I came back from a late afternoon jaunt to the PO and discovered the pair had shifted positions on the labyrinth. In addition, Sparky was holding a miniature "Lenten devotional". The book was so small it only read "Lenten devo" and gnomey was holding a tiny kleenex. Sometimes the labyrinth experience brings tears to the surface. If you are made of plaster, it is wise to have an absorbant tissue at the ready.

By the next day, someone had added signs of the stations of the cross for them. Little 2"x 2" signs glued to the legs of the stool. They were written on aluminum foil bits.

The Monday after Palm Sunday, there was a palm branch added to the collection; and yesterday, a friend and I glued two popsicle sticks together in a cross,and filled the space with flower petals for the floral cross.

These measures were not taken lightly. They were not intended to be rude or make fun of any of these special rituals and it amazed me that they were accepted at face value and somehow, those two small not-alive (see? I KNOW they are not alive, I really do) creatures gleaned respect from real live people........ who had to slow down to notice and they had to slow down to create additions, and they had to breathe in all that. It was a wonderful sight to see and still is.

The wooden rhino, Hal, that my eldest brought back from Zimbabwe tried to join the group, but his horn kept getting in the way, so we just let him pray with my praying angel that usually sits on the bookshelf. The zebra that probably was a happymeal toy was sadly asked to leave the labyrinth because his stripes, mixed together with the lines of the labyrinth, made the walkers dizzy.

Yes, I've worked. Yes, I'm working. Consider this experience -staff support. It's in my job description.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Hubbida hubbida Happy Birthday

Cinderella is one of my favorite Disney flicks. I like most of the old ones, but there is a part of this one that always makes me feel light hearted. The mice, who I respect so much for being wonderful friends!!! There is one mouse, I can't think of his name, but he sings out Hubbada, hubbada HappyBirthday!!! and on Saturday, April 4, I would like this message sent out via all micey folks to one of my favorite better half-s. Turning 80 and still wreaking havoc !!!
Congrats to you, friend!!