I start pulling the obvious weeds.
Ripping with vigor at the thoughts that won’t leave.
I wonder if she liked to garden, on her summers off, brave soul that died protecting her classroom kids.
I plunge my hands beneath the dirt, digging up worms and grief. Refugees flood my mind, the yellow and blue of the bee and sky, Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine. I cry.
I tear open the seed packet, gently, as to not spill the precious starters. I’m reminded of the gentle dribble of formula that parents carefully try to keep from leaving their babes mouths. How will we feed them.
The wind blows around my skin. It’s welcome after working up a tiny sweat. It’s welcome, I appreciate it, the feeling. Instantly I am sick thinking of unwelcome : words, glances, pressure against the skin by those they trusted, leaders of church sinning outright in the most abusive way. It never has to be this way.
My tiny seeds won’t stand a chance if it’s up to me. I’ll forget to water them, the wind will blow half of them away before they even get the chance. Another quarter will be eaten by the wild. How are we different from that? We are eaten, blown around, scattered about with fear, guilt, anguish.
But I plant anyway. I plant for the granny that was just getting her groceries. I plant for the uncle who was at his place of worship, undoubtedly saying prayers of some kind. Taken, without a chance to say goodbye. A catch in my throat, tears again.
I need to know when I dig my hole, and drop in life, that hope springs forth with best effort.
I am happy with my wee progress, there is always more to do though. I grab the watering can and slowly, drench the faithful dirt. We can do it together, I say to my Creator. You bring the sun, and some rain, and I’ll remember to pray, and water too.
I notice my hands. Covered in the earth. I take a deep, long sigh, long breath in, long exhale.
I don’t have the answers.
I don’t know the right way through.
I am unsure if my garden will grow how I imagined.
I stand, brush my soggy knees a bit, and stretch to the sky.
But I tried. I planted what I could, with all I had, whispering prayers with the roly pollies who shared my haven.
I added beauty by reflecting, brainstorming. I remained grateful, while I dug. I will find places to donate my money and time. I have become more aware, I sit with the knowledge I’ve gained, yearn for more.
I remember to listen.
I return the tools I needed to garden, and I take a seat to hear to the song of the red winged blackbird, joyous and clear.
My privilege teaches me, and I must apply it. Perhaps there may be a day, a victim’s family member, or a survivor; or a child, or teacher; or refugee, may visit my garden, and may take rest here. May they have pain relieved even a sliver, or find peace, a tree frog or a monarch.
I don’t know the answers, but I’ve welcomed the sun, sought peace. I’ve prayed for healing, I’ve dug the weeds and dropped in life; watered, and am grateful. It is a tiny offering, may it be gentle enough for today.