We may be thankful for many things in a garden, but not everything. Under the “thankful for” heading: the blazing color of spring bloom, the annual return of flirty butterflies and the shift of seasons from gentle spring to sultry summer. “Not thankful for”: boxwood blight and periodic drought. Benedictine monk and author David Steindl-Rast reminds us that while we might not be thankful for everything we are given, we can be thankful in every moment and the opportunities each moment presents. It has been a privilege to work at a garden where so many volunteers, staff, members and patrons exhibit the quality of living thankfully.
Some images come readily to mind:
A volunteer cheerfully pulls weed after weed, freeing up a bed of brilliant daffodils while his joints gently pop like little hands applauding every time he rises from his kneeling pad. A colleague with a huge smile on her face welcomes a guest to the butterfly exhibit, asks a quick question, provides a helpful response, and then does that again and again, scores of times on a steamy afternoon. A member with a cane beams with joy about a newly encountered conifer on a hot summer day, taking the time to thank gardeners and volunteers and the young cashier in the Garden Cafe for the discovery, when even walking is a challenge for him.
It has been my experience that the generosity of patrons is often rooted in an attitude of thankfulness. Many embrace the experiences and gifts of life with a grateful air, eager to share their commitment and their passion. The Louise B. Cochrane Rose Garden was supported by and named for an engaging woman who passionately loved roses. She saw, and in her art frequently conveyed, their delicate shape and tantalizing color. This May, as the bloom returns to her garden at Lewis Ginter, we can be thankful for her life, even as we sorrowed at her passing this past December. In that hard moment, we were reminded how much lives spent in celebration mean to us. In that moment we were grateful for such lives.