Love in Action…
Each year my church assembles teams and goes out into our community to do service projects. We call it – Love In Action. I signed up this year to help clean up landscaping at a mobile home park near our church.
In years past I have served with my family and friends and we happily went about our day cleaning up school yards, painting old buildings and passing out food. Today was different, today I met a friend.
Our project time started out as usual, me standing with my friends listening to instructions and ready to do some serious work. I gathered with a small group and we quickly began planting small shrubs and flowers as we listened to music and chatted. We finished our area and I went searching for the rest of my friends. They were finishing up cleaning out a gutter for a resident. I began talking and asked if I could do anything else to help her. She politely said, “no, I think I am good.” I offered to pick the weeds in her flower beds. She was hesitant and I assured her I knew the difference between a weed and a flower. She smiled and agreed to my assistance.
Soon my group left for the next home but I stayed behind to keep weeding the garden. For those of you who know me, you know it wasn’t long before I was deep in small talk with the owner of this house. Small talk about the recent snow storm, what we both did at our jobs, how pretty the yellow iris are in her front yard. I could tell she was shy and so I kept pulling weeds and all the grass that was trying to take over her flower bed and kept my chatter to a minimum. Soon she started asking me questions. Why did we want to help strangers? What kind of church were we from? Do we do this a lot? She was amazed I wanted nothing in return.
I found out her name and that she lives alone. She learned to garden from her Dad. She moved to this area to help her sister who had breast cancer. No more small talk. She joined me in the weeding effort. After two hours of work she asked me to come out back so she could show me more flowers. Her back yard is a sanctuary. It is nestled close to a pond. Hummingbird feeders dot the landscape and a beautiful purple clematis climbs and old wagon wheel. Peaceful and serene. The crazy thing is her mobile home is a block away from a very cool new micro brewery, restaurant and winery where it is literally almost impossible to get a table. She is not thrilled about this – too many people, too much noise. I have been to this restaurant and had no idea this peaceful little house with the beautiful garden, where the bunnies and squirrels and hummingbirds hang out was hidden behind the old oak trees lining the brewery.
At first I didn’t think we would have much to talk about once we stopped talking about the weather. She sported a long braid that cascaded down to the back of her knees. She told me she has not cut her hair in 25 years. I on the other hand schedule my hair appointment months in advance securing my every 6 weeks cut and color. She lives alone and I share my house with my husband, our four children and tons of teenagers who hang out too. She admitted she doesn’t like to be around a lot of people. I am an extrovert who loves a crowd. However; the longer we spent in the garden the more we shared about our lives and the more we understood we were alike. Each made in the image of God and each mesmerized by God’s gift of flowers.
I finished her yard, we hugged as we said goodbye and she invited me to stop by in July to check out all the flowers that will be in bloom. I will have to take her up on the offer. Love in Action… I set out to be a blessing and yet God so blessed me with the company of this sweet lady who shares my passion for beautiful flowers.
When was the last time you unexpectedly connected with a stranger?
Mark 12:31 NIV “ The second is this : Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”