Tending the Garden

When we are willing to rest with trust on this earth, the great force of life will begin to move through us. I saw this force of life in the midst of tremendous desolation some years ago in the dry and barren land of the Cambodian refugee camps, which I had visited to assist the refugees. After the Cambodian holocaust only parts of families had survived- a mother and three children, an old uncle and two nephews- and each was given a little bamboo hut about four feet wide, six feet long, and  five feet high. In front of each hut was a little patch of land perhaps no bigger than one square yard. After only a few months of camp life, next to most of the huts in their little squares of ground, people had planted their gardens. They would have a squash plant with two or three small squash on it, or a bean plant, or some other vegetable. The plants were very carefully tended, with little bamboo stakes for support. The tendrils of a bean plant would winds around the stakes and up over the roof of the house.

Every day each refugee family would walk a mile and stand for half an hour in a long line at the pit well at the far end of the camp and carry back a bucket of water for their plants. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing to see these gardens in the middle of this camp in the dry season, when you could barely believe that anything would grow on such a hot and barren field.

As these war-shattered families planted and watered their tiny gardens, they awakened the unstoppable force of life. So can we! No matter what inner difficulty or outer suffering we may experience, in tending to the darkness with compassion we will discover this same unstoppable life force.

This story is taken from the book, “Soul Food: Stories to Nourish the Spirit & the Heart

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