Gardening 101

Self, Homelessness

Contributed by: Siloam Mission

Blink’s Garden features a great wall that divides the land in two. Metaphorically that big wall is the dividing line between two very different types of power: the power of the sword, and the power of the seed.

Is there power in a sword? Sure there is! If I have a sword and tell you to do as I say, odds are good that you are going to do it. But why? What is the engine of the power of the sword? What makes it go? What makes it work?

Fear. The power of the sword works, and it works quickly, but it doesn’t end well. Because if all you ever use to build your world is the power of the sword, it usually ends with a few people on top with swords, and a lot of people on the bottom in chains and cages. And that’s not simply fiction, that has happened before in history – way too many times.

But that’s not the only kind of power. On Blink’s side of the wall we see the power of the seed at work. Is there power in a seed? Let me tell you a quick story from Japan:

In the northern part of Japan there is a city called Morioka. In the center of Morioka there is a huge rock that has been there for thousands of years. About 400 years ago a tiny crack opened up in that rock and what slipped in but a tiny sakura seed, the seed of a cherry tree. Now, what do you find in the center of Morioka? A huge cherry tree and a rock that has been split in half by the power of that tree growing.

So is there power in a seed? There sure is! But here’s the thing about the power of the seed: it takes a while. The power of the seed is slow, but it has a much better ending than the power of the sword. Because the thing that makes it go isn’t fear, it’s care and love. If you know anyone who enjoys gardening you know this already. A garden takes a little water, and little weeding, some fertilizer, patience, dedication, and lots of time. But it ends well because eventually a garden will give you food and beauty – the very things we need to live a good life.

And the most important part if how the different types of power handle difference itself. With the power of the sword, if you are different than everyone else, you’d better have a sword, or else you are going to end up in chains or in a cage. But with the power of the seed – in the garden – if you are different you are absolutely vital to the health of the garden.

What happens to a plot of land if you grow the same thing year after year for ten years in a row? The gardeners among you will know that by year ten, hardly anything will grow anymore! A garden needs diversity in order to thrive. Without it, you get dead, barren soil.

Are you starting to see what this has to do with poverty and homelessness? Remember that I said the people on Blink’s side of the wall were living in a desert? They weren’t living in a desert, THEY HAD MADE A DESERT! They were always saying, “Blink get those weird plants out of here! We can’t see how they are beautiful or even useful, and we they don’t give us food like our potatoes do.” They only realize in the course of the story that the health of Blink’s garden and the health of their land is all tied up together! Blink’s garden can’t be healthy without them. They can’t be healthy without Blink’s Garden.

Lots of people in our city might say, “Siloam Mission?! Inner city Winnipeg?! Why would you go there? That’s a place to be avoided!

Those plants are not pretty! / In fact, they are ugly! / And they don’t even give any food!
But you won’t build a better world with that kind of thinking. The opposite state of mind is something we call Step 1 To Changing the World: to connect your life with people who are not like you. These are the people who share Blink’s “special ability,” to see beauty where others can’t. Because you don’t build a community that looks and functions like a healthy garden by keeping everyone separate, by avoiding that which is unfamiliar, challenging, and maybe even a little uncomfortable. Instead, things get better when we connect with people who are not like us, because we find out that even in the act of helping someone, you are helped. In the act of healing someone, you are healed. In the act of changing someone’s life, you are changed.

You change them. They change you. That changes everything. It’s slow, it’s takes time and lots of persistence, but it’s the only way to grow a garden.

Originally published February 16, 2016 here.