One of my favorite parts of my job is working in the urban garden which is in the backyard at Church of the Pilgrims. Side note, on the bus the other day I passed a church called “The Temple of Truth” and it had a NO TRESPASSING sign outside of it. The two thoughts that crossed my mind were that it seemed like a vision out of a Bob Dylan song, and the other was that that church is the opposite of Church of the Pilgrims which has a gay pride flag flying outside with a sign that says “All Are Welcome”. This is just one of the things I love about Church of the Pilgrims, the fact that everyone is accepted and welcomed just as they are and the diversity of people in a church with an open door policy.
Anyway, my time in the garden was the highlight of the week. The Associate Pastor Ashley, myself and Gavin, who works with a group called “Love and Carrots” (be sure to check their Instagram) worked out in the garden for about two hours on Thursday morning. We had a great time together, but one of the things that kept coming up in our conversations was that gardening is a metaphor for life. There were three gardening parallels that stood out for me and I’ll be using those to center this blog post.
The first one is that you must cut back the dead plants to make way for new growth. Whether these are old habits that need to be changed or even for my faith journey, learning practices that are new to me which allow me to appreciate different things. As I’ve mentioned before, over the past few years I’ve been struggling with my faith. One of the aspects that I’ve been struggling with is figuring out a way that I can go about praying that I am comfortable with. I felt narcissistic in the way that I prayed for things that I wanted to happen and not really appreciating what I already had. In addition to that, I haven’t felt comfortable praying for things to happen because I firmly believe in freewill. So when I prayed for things to happen, it seemed more like a time to prioritize than anything else. But this week I was exposed to the Quaker practice of “holding someone in the light” which is the aspect of prayer that resonates most with me. To hold one in the light, as I understand it, is to really focus on that person and try to send them positive energy, healing, patience, strength or whatever else someone might be needing. The thing about this is that you must be open to accepting that in order to feel the support. When I was in Portland, I’m sure people were praying for me but I was closed off to the thought of spirituality so I didn’t feel the support. However, since I’ve been in DC I have been more open to the fact that a lot of people are holding me in the light, in one way or another, and whenever I start to feel down or angry, I focus and I’m able to feel the support of those sending me that positive energy or what have you.
Another gardening parallel with life comes along with the use of compost. When you garden with compost you grow things that you didn’t plant because you used old parts of other fruits or veggies in order to help give growth to new life. In my life I’ve had the pleasure and the privilege of having a ton of amazing people in my life and many of them have had an impact on helping me become who I am today. Sometimes in life I realize, “Hey that’s something that Fran McIntyre would do” or, “Oh wow I just said that like my Grampa would have” or, “Jerry Barney would have made a joke like that”. Just because they are no longer with us doesn’t mean that they stopped having an impact on my life. In the garden you are surprised when you grow a melon that you didn’t plant but you’re happy to see it, just like when I notice how others have had an impact on my growth it makes me proud that I’m carrying on their spirit in some way.
My last gardening metaphor for life provides itself in the form of smelly fish guts! For all the new seeds and transplants that we planted, Gavin had me spray a concoction of fish guts and water on them because that apparently helps them adapt more easily to their new surroundings. One of my least favorite things about moving to a new area or even starting a new job is the growing pains of getting acclimated. But just like the fish guts, those gross smelly times are actually good for me! I’ve been starting to feel comfortable in DC and the public transportation, but just this past week I went through a completely new learning experience. This past week was when Mara, Chelsey (a good friend of mine from Montlure Church Camp who recently got a coaching job with Georgetown’s Softball team) and myself went to a street festival on the other side of town and we had a great time. What wasn’t so great was when we were trying to figure out our way home with the weekend bus schedule. This means that about half the amount of busses that are normally running on the week are running on the weekend. So we were at an intersection with three bus stops within close proximity and in the hour and a half we were waiting we managed to wait at all three stops because our app with “actual” bus time arrivals kept on changing every few minutes. Needless to say we were frustrated and relieved when we ended up taking the bus we were originally waiting for! However we did get a warm welcome to town from a couple of ladies who had been waiting as long as we had and thought that we were tourists… It was definitely a “smelly fish guts” experience but now I’ve learned not to count on the busses during the weekends!
To end on a high note I’ll talk about church on Sunday! Every season Church of the Pilgrims has themes which are essentially new ways to reflect on the service and church as a whole. So in order to get a new perspective on these themes every Sunday a member is invited to talk about the theme in their life. This season’s theme is a time when your mind, heart and body were aligned, and I had the pleasure of being able to tell my story on Sunday! So after I post this, I’ll include that so all of you can get a chance to read what I said. The other thing that made this Sunday special was that every third Sunday after church the LGBT members go out to brunch together! I love that I’m a part of a church where there are people my age and no one has to be afraid of wearing their sexual orientation on their sleeve. It was a great time with such fun people. For the rest of the year, every third Sunday of the month will definitely be a highlight of my month.
Thanks for your prayers and support. Peace be with you!
This is one of the stained glass windows inside Church of the Pilgrims
A quote from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
A quote from the FDR memorial
Finally, a quote from the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. All of these quotes resonated with me one way or another. I hope they can find meaning in your life too!