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Cultivating Memories of Joy in The Garden

Almost every morning on my way to work, like most Houstonians, I pass through a shabby part of Houston. These parts of town are not hard to find. If you drive long enough down any road in Houston, you’ll end up passing cleanly trimmed mansions and high-rises, but not too far down that same street you’ll find fences falling down and dilapidated buildings. The greenery that has usurped a metal fence catches my eye in an otherwise barren street. I notice the small purple blossoms and I feel a sweet throb in my heart as visions of my own small hands picking morning glories passed through it.

I remember walking to the mailbox with my mom in the morning to watch as the purple flowers slowly opened as the sun came up. My mind was calmed with thoughts of joy and peace. I have many memories like this one: memories of picking okra from a stalk that seemed 10 feet tall and hiding in the wild onion grass, playing fairy—sweet memories of being outside, in God’s creation.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, from 8:15 a.m. to 10:55 a.m., my heart swells because I am witnessing the children in my gardening class creating the type of happy memories that I pray will warm their souls as adults. For example, yesterday morning, I had one student tell me she was picking many flowers and throwing them around the garden because she thought that it was a beautiful thing to do. I hope that someday, this student smells the pungent smell of marigolds and remembers the moment she spread beauty and realizes that she still has the power to do so.

In the Saint Constantine garden, children may learn to pull weeds, to harvest okra, to rake and mow, but most importantly they will learn to identify and love beauty all around them.

Garden update: These past couple of weeks, we have been enjoying the harvest of okra from our spring planting. We have also been preparing the ground for fall/winter planting. This means we have been mulching the areas in the garden that we want plant on. The next step is to gather soil and seeds. If you would like to help us gather the supplies needed for our fall/winter garden, please email me at elewis@saintconstantine.org.

I leave you with a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson that we read with the students on a rainy day:

Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.

Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.

The dusty attic spider-clad
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
And through the broken edge of tiles
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.

Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy’s inmost nook.

Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.

-Robert Louis Stevenson, Summer Sun

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