I have been writing about the Garden for some months now, and it has been fun. It’s been great to hear the comments of those who read my blog, both those who stumble upon it and those who I inform about it. Yet, I find this is still not enough. I have told stories about my life in the garden… so what? Is the garden only about stories? The stories are nice, yes, but what about the rest? What about the lessons and the challenges?
I seek to give joy, through the things I see, and the things I do and experience. So I write the blog, hoping that it will warm up someone’s heart and make them happy and free, even if only for a moment while they read about the heaven upon the earth. But now I feel there must be more. There must be something I can give that will bring even more of the joy and peace that comes from the garden.
So today is my first foray into the world of the unknown for me… the world of taking experiences and life and extracting lessons from it. Of course my lesson will be about the garden itself. This after all is what all of this was meant to be.. a story about a journey in the garden….and so my story begins…
Just last week I was walking with a colleague of mine from our offices to the mess about 2-300m away through the bush. As we walked, gingerly stepping through the narrow path in the grass, keeping our eyes and ears open as one is wont to do when walking in not so safe territory, he suddenly exclaimed how it was so amazing that with over 600 people living in an area that is chock full of all types of snakes, no one had been seriously injured by a snake in over 5 years. “How can that be?” he said.
I was, as usual, quick to share my knowledge of snakes, hoping that thus an explanation would be found. Snakes, I am told tend to know when another animal, human and all, is approaching. They are naturally shy of human beings and will move away as fast as they can when they determine you are approaching. So, chances of meeting one are not very high, even in the bush that is full of them. The only snake I know that breaks this rule and also lives in this garden is the black mamba… the one that with one bite can send you to the grave within 5 minutes, if something (and the right thing too) is not done about it before then.
As I explained this, he had a further thing to say: “It is interesting how much effort we take to understand other creatures and how best to live with them, yet how little effort we take to understand one another as human beings and how best to live with one another.” That stopped me in my tracks.
Yes, we have psychologists, psychiatrists, medical doctors of all specialties, priests, pastors, kadhis and all other spiritual leaders and healers… life coaches and fitness instructors, who all take trouble to understand the human body, mind, spirit and being and help those who seek their help. Yet on a day to day basis, how much pain and hurt do we have to live that is caused by one another? Why is so much of the world in turmoil? Why are the Jews fighting the Palestinians and vice versa? Why did the Kikuyu fight the Luo and vice versa? Why is it so hard for us to understand one another’s differences and accept one another as we are? Why do men and women not understand each other?
These are all topics discussed every day all over this earth. If we can accept that the black mamba can live among us and it is in fact better to have them not be extinct because they have a role to play in nature, why then should we think that any other person that is different has no role to play in society… or nature? I suppose, one could argue that it is all about resources… that resources are scarce and so we fight to live. Maybe, and maybe not. In many cases, I think, it is just simple greed.
So what does this have to do with the garden? Plenty! To be in the garden is a true blessing. A blessing I believe, that is straight from God himself. A blessing to show his mercy and love, and bring us closer to Him as we live a life that can only be compared to what we read about in the Book of Genesis, before Adam and Eve sinned.
Yet, having come from the same world that everyone lives in, what do we bring with us to the garden? Do we bring with us all our little ills, our diminished wellness in spirit, mind and body? Do we bring with us our prejudices, selfishness and greed? Or do we rejoice in our blessing and seek to bring forth to one another only love, hope and charity? Yes, even as we seek to heal of all our ills?
It is a challenging question and one that ought to be asked of ourselves each and every day. Through the love of God, we can overcome all these ills, and through letting the balm of the garden work its magic in us, we can truly live a life of love, hope and charity. For I can tell you with utmost certainty, every time there is any pain in this garden, that I have seen, it is due to one person’s action against, or lack of action for, another. With the same utmost certainty, I can also tell you that every time there is joy or happiness in this garden, that I have seen, it is due to one person’s act of sharing love, hope and/or charity with another.
I have another question: Could the garden be where you live?
As you ponder the answer to this question, let me demonstrate how love, charity, hope, and nature’s role can be demonstrated in just one event.
Last year, sometime, I had taken the option of driving to lunch instead of walking through the bush. The grass was too tall by then I think, and I was wary of walking through it since it was probably taller than I am. When the grass gets this tall your worry is no longer just the snakes, but the buffalo or lion or leopard that could be camouflaged within. I parked under the shade of a tree less than 50m from the building. On my return, 2 of my Caucasian colleagues (I mention this to underline a difference that this world tends to give a lot of consideration to – race) who are a couple, were walking ahead of me towards the same cluster of trees where they had parked their own vehicle.
Their vehicle was perhaps 4 meters away from mine with the cluster of trees between them. As they approached their vehicle and I mine, I noticed that there was now a long black stick, about a meter long, right next to my door on the driver’s side. I knew it had not been there before, because it was right where I would have stepped on getting off the car.
When it moved, I gasped! This was no stick! It was a black snake! Snakes freak me out and I stood still, holding my hand to my chest in shock. If I had not looked, I would have walked right on top of it…or so I thought in horror. I was still some 6 meters away, so I had seen it in time. My colleagues asked what had frightened me and I explained that there was a snake at my vehicle. They stopped to look, but by the time I turned from talking to them to look at the snake, I could just see its tail disappearing as it went into the vehicle from beneath!
Now, I was truly cooked. As the thoughts rushed through my head wondering what I was going to do about it, the gentleman walked to my vehicle to see, but even after peeping in through the windows he could not see it. He still had not seen it, and was not sure it was real. He asked for my vehicle keys so that he could open and see better inside. I could not dare go any closer to the vehicle, but his wife kindly walked towards me, collected the key, took it to her husband, then walked back to where I was. She was giving me the support I much needed, while at the same time allowing her husband to take the heat for me and find and remove what could be a very poisonous snake.
As he began to open up the vehicle, it became too much for me. I could only think that if he disturbed it, there was no telling which way it would take off to, and that could end up being exactly where I was. I opted to risk the tall grass. At least there, I was not sure whether there was anything or not. At my vehicle, there was certainty of there being something dangerous. The lady opted to stay and I left and rushed to the office.
As I approached the office building, I passed another Caucasian officer running out of his office with a long stick and watched him get into his vehicle and take off at high speed. An hour later, I received a call from the couple that had come to my rescue. Apparently when I left, the gentleman had decided to open up the hood of the vehicle since the snake could not be seen anywhere inside the vehicle.
With both his hands holding up the hood, he peeped and peeped inside the vehicle engine compartment and still could not see anything… until he turned to look at the battery right next to him. There was the black spitting cobra with its head lifted and pointed straight at him! As he put it, with a strong British accent: “… I must have given the cobra a great big headache…”, because he had let go of that hood so fast, the snake had no time to strike him. He jumped back in shock, and that is when he called the wildlife officer who arrived at top speed to try and remove it… the same officer I had seen running out of his office and wondered where he was going to at such great speed. He did not succeed, since the snake wrapped itself in a section of the engine that he could not easily reach with his stick.
The snake eventually went away… after 2 days, during which time I experienced much heckling in jest from colleagues as to why I was ignoring my guest, and why I was not inviting him home… since he is nocturnal and would crawl out in the night anyway… yeah right!
The moral of the story? The people who came to my rescue and did the best they could, gave of themselves, and essentially risked their lives for me, without caring about our differences. That is how the garden should be. I will remain ever grateful to them for sharing their love and charity with me. Yet above all this, I will remain ever grateful to God, for showing me the snake in time, showing me where it had gone to in time, giving me colleagues who are so willing to give, and keeping me safe and well in his beautiful garden.
And so I ask you again… Do you live in the garden?
Come… walk with me in the garden.
Copyright (c) 2009-2010. Ophelia Swai. All Rights Reserved