Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Gardens in the Concrete Canyons

I love gardens in the City....roof top gardens and gardens carved from unexpected places.  One of my favorite gardens in the City is the Clinton Community Garden.  Hell's Kitchen is pretty chic and pricey now, but as you can imagine from the name, the neighborhood wasn't always this way.

The space below was once a nasty vacant lot with old cars and construction debris strewn about.  The sight of a self-seeded tomato plant on the site inspired community activists to reclaim this long-abandoned City of New York property into the gorgeous neighborhood green space it is today.  Volunteers work in the community garden area or have plots of their own to plant.  You can compost your kitchen waste here, right in the center of New York City.

I saw this little grotto area in a convent just down the street from the Clinton Community Garden.

I have found, through years of practice, that people garden
in order to make something grow; to interact with nature;
to share, to find sanctuary, to heal, to honor the earth,
to leave a mark.  Through gardening, we feel whole as we
make our personal work of art upon our land.
--Julie Moir Messervy, The Inward Garden

Finding Meaning in the Midst of Horror

I visited St. Paul's Chapel the other day.  The chapel stands near the former World Trade Center site in New York City.  You may remember coverage in the news back ten years ago of this historic church which miraculously remained standing after the Twin Towers collapsed.  It stood while George Washington worshipped there and it continued to stand and minister to God's people when the foundations of our very way of life shook.

This was the church that ministered to the rescue workers who went to work in the recovery efforts, day after dusty, discouraging, horrifying day. 

In liturgical churches (such as the Roman Catholic, Episcopal or Greek Orthodox traditions) pastors wear vestments.  Or, as a priest I once knew said to a kid I took to church, "Hey, how do you like my dress?"  One of these garments is called a chausible.  At St. Paul's Church, the pastor wore a red chausible which his mother had made for him. 

No one knows how it started, but one weary cop or firefighter or EMS worker or whomever, took the patch from his uniform and safety-pinned it to the red, hand-made by Mom, chausible.  This cry to find meaning in the midst of unspeakable horror resonated with many of the rescue workers who slept in the venerable old chapel on cots.  One after another they pinned their own patches to the chausible.  And when it become too full to take another patch, they begin to pile them on the floor around it.

The pastor officiated at religious services in the red chausible, the fabric nearly hidden by so many patches from all over the world.  I saw a patch from Tel Aviv, from a German Police Department, The German Red Cross, from Queensland Austrailia, and from every spot in the United States you could think of.  Each represented one person who traveled from far away to stand in solidarity with all of us and found meaning in faith while they were here.

It was one of the most moving things I have ever seen in my life; breathtakingly beautiful in a homey, organic, and from-the-heart kind of way.