When I was growing up, I never understood why my parents spent so much time working in our garden; they would spend hours weeding in the heat just for those weeds to grow back a few days later. And then they would do it all over again. Maybe it was because I’ve never had a green thumb like them – trust me, I’ve tried keeping succulents in my dorm room and somehow, I always ruin them. Or, maybe it was because I never took the time to learn about why gardening was so important to them.
Last week, I had the opportunity to serve at Glenwood Life Counseling Center with a group from Watts Street Baptist Church located in Durham, NC. We spent our time there serving in their recovery garden. Their recovery garden resides in what used to be a vacant lot and found its home there because a staff member noticed how empty the land looked and decided that something needed to be done about that. Precious saw that recovery was about life, not desolation and vacant lots.
With the help of community members, Glenwood Life has been tending to and caring for this garden for a few years. They have plants native to Maryland, as well as a vegetable garden. We spent our first day in the recovery garden weeding – I spent hours weeding (and I have the sunburn to prove it!) just like my parents used to, and still do. At the end of our week there, we mulched the flowerbeds of native plants and the walkways in the vegetable garden, learning about how much mulch needs to be around the plants, how close it should be, how tall it should be etc.
By the end of the week, I finally started to grasp why my parents spent so much time and energy taking care of our garden at home – it was the same reason Precious and the patients at Glenwood Life spend so much time and energy on and in the recovery garden – because they were creating life. One of the patients who frequents the garden when he can, was kind enough to give us his own personal testimony of how important the garden was for his recovery.
Baltimore is constantly showing me different ways to see life around me. Sometimes, it is in the form of a child’s laughter at summer camp, and sometimes it is in the native plants and vegetable gardens that have taken root in the vacant lots of the city. Baltimore is inviting me to open my eyes and see life like I have never seen it before, asking me to embrace life and all it has to offer. Baltimore has been showing me what it means to truly live. And, hey, who knows? Maybe after this summer I’ll give gardening another chance and bring new life to other aspects of my world.