From Where I Sit

Essays by the Rev. F. Richard Garland
We Preserve What We Share
June 2021

I have spent the better part of May working in the gardens. The early peas are up, as are the green beans and radishes. The tomato plants are in, as is the basil and parsley. The oregano has made it through another winter. Spring gardening is a special joy.

Years ago I purchased an unusual coleus plant at a church bazaar.  It has a crinkled leaf and its color is a combination of bright yellow and deep crimson.  It thrives in the sun and puts on a brilliant show all summer.  It has long been a favorite and I've given away dozens of cuttings to friends.

Every fall I bring in plants and cuttings from this particular coleus to save them for another year. I’ve done this for thirty years or more.  But one year, during a move, I lost all of them - not one survived.  I checked with a friend who had taken some cuttings, but her plants had died too.  She had given them to her parents, but when she spoke with them, she found out that they had lost their plants as well. One of my very favorite plants was gone!

Two years had passed, when my friend’s parents were admiring a beautiful coleus in a friend's garden.  “Where did you get that beautiful coleus?” they asked.  Their friend laughed and said, “Why, you gave it to me!”  Long story short - I have the coleus back now, gift from the friend of the parents of a friend! It is in my gardens again for yet another season.

Life is like that - often we lose what we try to keep - but - we preserve what we share.  It calls to mind the lesson in spirituality and stewardship taught by Jesus: “Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” That same beautiful coleus still graces my garden.  I have it only because I gave it away.

The larger and enduring truth is this: If we share our presence, we will never be lonely.  If we share our abundance, we will never be poor.  If we share our time and talent, we will receive a blessing.  If we share in compassion, we will find in our service meaning for life.  If we share our love, we will receive the very presence of God.  As we begin to emerge from a season of pandemic, with its disruption, its health concerns and fear, its social distancing; as we look forward to simple joys like a hug, or a dinner out, or travel; let us find something of ourselves to share with someone else, for the measure we give will be the measure we get back. We preserve what we share.
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