There was one non-rainy -- sunny even! -- day last week, and it happened to fall on our very first community gathering here in the garden. I couldn't help but feel so encouraged that we were gifted with such a beautiful day sandwiched in between stormy ones.
I'll be honest with you, I'm not a group-hang person. I tell people that the more kids I have, the more introverted I become, perhaps due to the growing level of outflow in my daily life. I love connecting with one to five (max!) other people, where we all have a chance to share, listen, feel seen and heard. As much as I believed in this community day, my small-group-self was a smidgen apprehensive.
As we all started to gather, everyone acknowledged what a gift this random sunny day was. Talk about the weather didn't seem like a nervous space-filler to conversation, but a unified focal point of gratitude. A canopy of peace and joy started to cover the garden as we all took turns introducing ourselves and then gloved up to plunge our hands into the earth.
Nonstop chatting filled the garden as we weeded, planted, and checked irrigation lines for the impending dry season. Topics ranged from, "Which tomato variety grows best in our region?" to, "What veggies should I plant if I only have a few pots on my balcony to work with?" and matters that had nothing to do with the garden but were so significant.
We planted petunias and marigolds as borders around the beds to see how they do as companions with our vegetables and if they do indeed keep the pests that we've been struggling with away. Regardless of their effectiveness against critters, their presence was an endearing and cheerful addition to the garden.
Our time together ended much quicker than I had anticipated; those two hours flew by. Usually at the end of a group setting I leave feeling depleted and long for some quiet time, but this day was different. The garden is special to my heart. Opening it's gates to others was a little unnerving as it's always been a personal sanctuary of sorts where I go to think as I weed and work, and the sounds normally surrounding me are those only of animals, bees, and wind blowing through the leaves.
All who entered the gates last Saturday seemed to enjoy the same qualities as I do about this space. Instead of all the chatting feeling like sound pollution in my little sanctuary (when you have five lively kids, quietness is a rare commodity), it added life, enhancing the feel of the garden. My introverted self discovered a buried treasure. Surrounding yourself with others who love the connection between themselves and creation is not bothersome, its bonding.
I'm learning how powerful and impacting community can be when there's a give-and-take exchange along with a common gratitude of beauty that surrounds the everyday. I am so thankful to everyone who gathered and loved on my garden as we got to know each other last week. You gave of your precious Saturday, and I hope you took away some pleasant memories and budding new friendships as well.
Opening our internal garden gates to others can feel vulnerable and unnerving, but when you find gentle people to unlock them to, the intimacy of together changes everything.