As a gardener, I was confronted a couple of years ago by the reality that the space I was using to grow vegetables was not going to perform as well as I had hoped, primarily because there are three large spruce trees at the back of the yard that start shading the entire yard about mid afternoon. I did get some vegetables, but it didn’t produce well. I started to transition the garden space into a perennial garden.
As much as it drives my neighbours crazy, I’ve let the yellow sweet clover take over. There’s also other native plants including sages, daisies, and a couple of Russian thistles that are about to bloom (and yes, once the blooms are finished, I’m deadheading because nobody wants a yard full of thistles), and wild grasses that sway with the wind. I’ve also seeded ancient grains that don’t seem to be coming up yet? But the mustard is still blooming, and the day lilies and other perennials seem to be thriving in the space I’ve called the meadow.
I’ve also let the other flower beds and the raised vegetable garden to go a little more on the wild side, and yes it means that the vegetables don’t produce as prolific as they would’ve in a well weeded garden–but the over all effect is a wild, woodland, green space filled with all kinds of insects and birds.
These plants are providing a sweet aroma to my space, they move with the winds and the heat increases the scents. I need to mow today just because the paths that I walk are starting to get a bit overgrown, and strangely enough the lawn parts of the back yard are drying out while the more naturalized parts of the yard seem to be thriving…although the next few days of heat wave will test that.
Before I went into my garden, I went into a thread on social media I was asked to reach out to and look into. Apparently, the GSD housing that’s just been announced at the University of Regina has caused a lot of ruckus in the comments section, and a friend of mine had reached out to many of us to try and go in and bring the energy of the comments up to a little more positive space.
They weren’t kidding. Ten seconds of just looking at the comments and I realized that the threads were literally filled with people who were trolling, people who were pushing a hegemonic agenda.
I closed the window. What to do? Do I confront it, do I just not get involved in it? I realized from having taken part in a similar exercise last week that posting in a positive way, especially among a swarm of negative comments, often results in attacks and a huge energy drain. My one interaction last week was exhausting!
In gardening, I have realized that sometimes making concessions results in beautiful results. In the case of the meadow, I simply allowed plants which would’ve been categorized as weeds by most any other gardener to flourish. The result is a space that, although unconventional, is pleasing and calming. It’s the contemplative “cottage” garden that I was aiming to create and it required far less work to achieve, and far less maintenance to keep looking good. Granted, most of my neighbours have commented on how I’ve let the weeds go. But their perception is based on a convention of what is and what is not a weed.
During Pride, I held a retreat slash workshop called “Crossing the Road” in which I tried to get participants to see that the labels we use, the approaches we take to those labels, are designed to keep barriers between us because those barriers achieve a certain purpose. It’s safer to keep an us versus them mentality. Saint Francis took a plunge, tried to break through barriers because he knew they were a hindrance to living to the fullest. Does this mean shaking off responsibility, does this mean not holding ourselves accountable for our actions? Absolutely not. What it does do is challenge us to question why it is we believe what we do about people, what those beliefs do to protect us, what ideas come about because of those beliefs that may or may not reflect truth about entire groups of people. Not challenging the barriers between us as people helps to affirm that prejudices founded in fear are acceptable. They’re necessary.
What no one seems to be willing to see is that on both sides of this, people are saying and doing the same things; only the names/identities of the individuals change. The mechanism behind prejudice is exactly the same, and no one is the wiser to how ridiculous the entire situation is.
On the same token, I realized that some people aren’t interested in understanding a different point of view. Some are simply excited, titillated, by trolling–poking the bear for poking the bear’s sake. They’re best ignored because their entire purpose is not to challenge any idea, it’s simply to stir up a reaction for the sake of stirring up a reaction. It’s childish, but more importantly, it’s a signal that someone requires understanding and compassion. Which is difficult to do, because let’s face it! These threads can create a massive amount of energy that most of us simply react to.
The challenge for us as Gender and Sexually Diverse people is to recognize that from our suffering, a suffering that many people either refuse to see or are unable to see, we are given a gift of empathy that is not only a privilege, but requires a certain level of responsibility. We are challenged to be empathic to people who don’t see a struggle where we feel the struggle daily.
Not seeing something which is asserted to exist as a challenge to some is not proof that challenge does not exist. Something that is not experienced as a challenge by one does not mean that challenge does not exist for others. It requires patience, it requires that we treat every individual we meet with the dignity and respect we would ourselves expect, even and especially if that individual seems undeserving of that dignity and respect. To do otherwise is to affirm that our differences keep us at opposite ends of a continuum that can never be crossed, or challenged.
Rather than enemy, Love of Neighbour.
The quote from the book today rings so solidly, and so true:
“All my brothers, let us pay attention to what the Lord says; love your enemies and do good to those who hate you for our Lord Jesus Christ, Whos footprints we must follow, called His betrayer a friend and willingly handed Himself to His executioners.
“Our friends, therefore, are all those who unjustly inflict upon us distress and anguish, shame and injury, sorrow and punishment, martyrdom and death. We must love them greatly for we shall possess eternal life because of what they bring us.”
-Earlier Rule, Chapter XXII