Ahhhh. Spring is here, in all its glory, greenery and warmth. I was out doing some gardening prep, you know, stuff like hardening off the plants, turning the dirt in the boxes, weeding, cleaning out the leaves, that sort of stuff. And as it always does when I’m doing chores like this, my mind began to wander. I let it go unattended, but made sure it stayed in sight. (I’ve lost my mind a few times… very worrying, until it found its way home.)
My mind began to play with a quote from my latest reading list of practical theology, “It is through other people that we truly become people,” and tried to smush it together with a quote from the U.S. presidential election two years ago, the phrase, “You didn’t build that,” uttered by President Obama. Hmm, I said to myself as my mind juggled the quotes while pointing out everything around me.
I couldn’t be loosening and turning the dirt if someone hadn’t invented the fork I was using, someone else manufacturing it and someone establishing the store to sell it to me. I couldn’t have started my plants indoors if someone (or two or three) hadn’t grown the parent plants, gathered the seeds, packaged them and placed them in the store for me to buy along with the UV lights and pots. Then there’s the potting soil, the electricity and the water. I did nothing to bring them into the house (except pay a bill) but they are all necessary for gardening success. Even my homemade compost requires the worms and the horses providing the manure.
I didn’t provide the gravel in the walkways between the boxes nor did I chop down the tree, saw the wood for the boxes or even make the boxes — my husband did that. My mind did not acquire what little gardening knowledge it has by skipping aimlessly through the forests.
No, that was purposely gleaned from books and Internet articles written by others, conversations with those of greater experience and working with my green-thumbed father from the time I could pick up a shovel. That’s just a very short list of those who helped make me the “gardener” I am today.
I do a lot of other things as well: cooking, sewing, crafting, to name a few. Who are the people who contributed to those activities and helped shape me?
My family is obvious, as are all the teachers I’ve had, as well as authors I’ve read, religious leaders, neighbours, my students and co-workers. What about the stranger with whom I exchange smiles, the clerk or the person I accidentally cut-off in traffic? Let’s face it: In some way every single person with whom I have interacted has touched me in some way and that includes the people who influenced them and so on and so on.
Wow! Given the ripple effect, it might even be possible to say every single person on this planet can affect every other person on the planet in some manner.
But it doesn’t stop there. Because we can only exist within our delicately balanced environment, we have to consider our effect on the rest of creation and how it affects us.
There is a saying in the Orthodox Church, “We are saved together but are damned alone.”
There is no personal salvation within the church; we are saved as a community. Jesus is not my personal saviour, He is the saviour of all of creation. I can make a personal decision to choose to join with others on the journey to personhood, helping them as they help me, but I can’t do it all by myself. When everyone depends upon every other one for everything, the whole concept of the individual, the self-made man, completely falls apart.
We need each other in order to survive and thrive. There is a growing number of people with physical and mental illnesses. Could this be related to society’s increasing tendency towards isolation?
We were not created to live alone; attempting to do so can be damaging if not deadly.
Spring is here and Christ is risen and all of creation with Him! Let us all be part of it.
Creston resident Anastasia Bartlett is the author of Glimpses of Glory and a member of St. Aidan’s Orthodox Church in Cranbrook.