Words of Encouragement
from parishioner Sarah Smith
September 17, 2020
Smith family
I want to be a gardener. I want my little plot of land to flourish. For all my love and care and hard work, I want to see, literally eat, the fruit of my labor. But to love is a vulnerable thing, sometimes the seeds fail, or insects ravage, or I’m ignorant of my own neglect.
Typically, neglect would be an expectation for at least two weeks every summer. But this year we stayed home. Instead of embarking on our annual road trip to see family in Maine and New Hampshire, we’ve maintained a mentality of quarantine ever since April. In the course of those five months, growth was exponential. We’ve added a whole flock of chickens to our family and I planted a very large garden.
The crazy thing is, despite my love, I have a habit of planting without much conviction that I’ll succeed. I expect adversity and failure. I’m not sure it softens the blow when the ground squirrels dig up my starters, or the deer jump my fence, or the rabbits prune my sweet potatoes. I know that I’m not very good at gardening yet, but I keep trying, holding out hope and looking for signs of life which feel very much like signs of grace. Alongside the garlic, raspberries, asparagus, rhubarb, beans, tomatoes, etc., we’re eating fruit this summer that I never planted. My compost dug into the soil last spring yielded an unexpected harvest of juicy cantaloupe, watermelon, and butternut squash.
You know Jesus’ exhortation, don’t worry about tomorrow, today has enough trouble of its own? Well I’m not a planner, I don’t think a whole lot about tomorrow. I struggle more worrying about the past, which can keep me overwhelmed in the today. Some of that history is my own, and some of that is a reckoning with our nation’s past that I’m only just learning about; generally speaking, we haven’t done a very good job at loving God, at loving our neighbor. 
I’m not doing any grand thing to end this pandemic, or construct policies that end racial inequity. But I can respond to God’s grace, and know that’s a sufficient place to start.
I’m part of a community that reminds me to hold out hope. To sing when I’m close to despair. I’m not very good at that yet. But I keep tending my little plot, my little flock, today. And I’ll give thanks for the grace that turns up.
I imagine how good it will be to gather fully in house with all of us together again. 
Meanwhile, we pray each night for you:
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
Grace and Peace to you!
(We began worshiping at CSMSG after moving to St. Louis in July 2012. Since then, my husband, Daniel, has been teaching in the confirmation program; I’ve been involved with Faithful Generations; Zeke, Gabe, and Claire have been born and baptized; Ezra, Agnes and Isaiah have loved serving as acolytes and Nathan is eager to join them.)

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