Pink Lemonade Blueberries and Strawberry Corn…what is our world coming to? This new pink blueberry provides year-round beauty and interest. Pinkish-white, bell-shaped blooms appear in spring. Summer brings pale green fruit that quickly turns deep pink for harvest. Autumn leaves are bright orange and red. The fruit is deliciously sweet and mild with a pleasant firm texture. And Strawberry Corn? These adorable little two-inch ears look remarkably like strawberries! They are great for decorations or crafts. It is also edible and pops into fluffy white popcorn.
R knows all about them and thinks we ought to plant both of these horticultural jewels in our emerging Herb Garden next to the Purple Dragon Carrots, another R suggestion. “R? Where did you learn about these unique edible delights?”, I ask. He responds, “From my grandfather who farmed in Mississippi.”
R is a tall, square young man with a cylinder shape haircut and a magnanimous personality. He is friendly, but it takes time to draw him out. Today is R’s and my day! We have an extensive conversation. He is the first to sign up for the Herb Garden planting the weekend of August 22 and to recommend what he thinks ought to go in the garden. Rosemary is his official entry. During this enlightening conversation thoughts race through the back of my mind. Listening to R and simultaneously creating context from the bits and pieces I am told, reminds me of Rudolph Steiner’s telling of the effects of earthquake tremors on people. When an earthquake takes place in some part of the world and people feel the earth stirring under their feet, as a rule they experience a feeling of terror, a shudder runs through them. If we try to find the causes of this feeling of terror, we must turn our attention not only to those occasions when a person faces the unknown, unexpected and inexplicable, but also to those when terror arises because as long as the tremor lasts one is wondering how far it will go and what may still surge up from unknown depths. Does R live with this kind of terror as the result of physical and mental injuries he suffered as a child? Does he carry in him the tremors of intense pain hidden in the depths of his soul? Does he have a deep cry for communion, a cry for love and friendship? I believe so.
My role at SH is primarily to be present and to encourage activity and community. Context helps in understanding the challenges facing the residents. I am aware of the same profound cry for love, friendship and communion in all the residents with whom I am getting to know but it shows up in different forms unique to the individual. At the same time in many of them I sense the deep fear that nobody can really love them, that nobody really wants them, because they are “dirty”, “evil,” “no good.”
R has many gifts; God has ways of acknowledging and affirming R’s gifts. Not only is R knowledgeable about edible plants, but also he will take a full load of classes at City College beginning in August. R exhibits the courage to move forward while he faces his mental health and self medication challenges head on. His façade? Light and carefree. His fears are real to him and his resolve present, but he is still vulnerable. God’s creation is part of R’s healing soul, which he brings with him from a troubled childhood. R is creating something new which will live on in him and in the Herb Garden.
I recall L telling me early on…”they all believe here.” I take that as a euphemism for “They all believe in God.” Reflecting on today, I am reminded of residents who come to church with me, participate in Bible study, want to talk about faith or to pray, or sit with the Book of Common Prayer. Almost half of the residents participate in one or more of these faith expressions. What would the world be like if almost half the world’s population engaged in one or more of these “spiritual disciplines”?
God is working his purpose out at SH…in God’s time. Go R!
Steiner, Rudolph. The Hidden Depths of Soul Life. November 1911. http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/19111123p01.html#sthash.FMiIaNqP.dpuf (accessed August 12, 2015).
Vanier, Jean. From Brokenness to Community. Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1992.