Thursday, February 21, 2008

you say tomato. i say tomato.

"sister abby. we dere in the garden and two of us still in we church clothes."

sister christopher is one of my favorite parts of the little methodist church in gouyave. she knows the hynmal by heart. sings with abundant joy. even after the service has ended. prayers of thanks naturally flow out of her. and she always wears her best sunday hat.

she has a contagious joy. it warms my heart to be around her. so i told her one day i'd love to come visit her. to spend the day by her. and this past sunday, when the service was over, she said, "you coming by me today?"

so i journeyed with mrs. christopher up to her son albert's house where she spends many a sunday afternoon. and i was welcomed into their home, into their family, with genuine hospitality. they have a beautiful garden overlooking the sea. with more kinds of fruits and vegetables that i can name. callilou. pockchoy. peppers. sorell. coconut. yam. bluggoe. plantain. fig. peas. pumpkins. mangoes. cabbage. tomatoes. okra. cherries. and on. and on. they grow what they need. and share with their neighbors. and their neighbors do the same. mutually taking care of one another.

mrs. christopher takes some of her produce to the market to sell. to earn her dollar for the offering plate, she says.

and i watched mrs. christopher. and her son albert. and her grandson tyrell. work in the garden together. me and sister christopher still in our church clothes. and it was a beautiful image of family. three generations together. and of the abundance that the earth provides.

and it made me want to have a garden. and live off the land. and share with my family. share with my neighbors.

mickey (mrs. christopher's daughter in law, who she calls mrs. christopher too) created a delicious sunday lunch. and i thanked her for her generous hospitiality. and she simply replied, its who i am.

sister christopher, the elder, loaded up a bag of fresh vegetables for me to take home. i thanked her as well. she said not to thank her, but to thank God. she says she is given, therefore, she must also give.

she placed three green tomatoes in my bag. said to put them to ripen. wait until they turn a nice juicy red.

so i placed the three tomatoes in my window sill. and one is just about ready. and the other two need more time.

and i feel like those unriped tomatoes these days. desperately depending on a Light to transform me. into who i am created to be. not something i can do on my own. but i must wait. the process seems to be slow. and i get impatient. and restless. feeling limited in my own greenness. longing to be more. to contribute more. frustrated when my days seem fruitless. when i fail to give. to love. to serve. like i know i have potential to.

but that little red tomato in my window sill gives me hope. proof that things ripen in their own time. the challenge is trusting and waiting. with faith. with patience.

in an unrelated yet related experience, i've been making special efforts to watch the sunset over the sea these days. to take a few moments to reflect on the day. to offer thanks. so whenever i'm home around 6:15 and its not all rainy. i make a little stroll down to the bay. and last night as i arrived, the sunset was subtle. a lightly tinted pink sky. the sun hiding behind a blanket of distant clouds. and i wasn't disappointed. i appreciated the little bit of color. and the faithful rhythm of the sea. and i watched a mother play with her daughter. and i prayed.

and as i sat on a stone. and waited. the sunset grew more and more colorful. and i watched the sky transform into something beautifully vibrant. and i nearly cried. at this lesson in waiting. in the beauty that inevitably comes when we can simply be still. and hope.

Loving Creator. thank you for the lessons you teach us. through tomatoes. and sunsets. and the random parables of life. transform us in your good and perfect timing. into juicy reds. and vibrant pinks. into the beautiful Image you created us to be. still our hearts when we are restless. and may we simply trust in your spirit that surely dwells in and all around us.

for God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. psalm 62:5.

Friday, February 8, 2008


arrived home tuesday evening to find the neighborhood looking a lot different. a lot brighter. a lot more red. green. and yellow. folks were out painting. sidewalks. and steps. and rocks. and walls. national colors everywhere. an annual tradition. in celebration of grenada's independence. which happened a mere thirty-four years ago. (just yesterday in the grand scheme of historical things. it continues to fascinate me how much middle aged grenadians have seen this nation change in their lifetime). and the tradition is probably an extravagant use of paint. but there is something neat about the community spirit that emerges from it.

so on the short walk from the bus stop to my house, i stopped to admire the new paint. and the painting that was still going on. change your clothes, abby. and you can come help us paint. who me? you mean i get to be a part of this? so i did. i changed. and headed back down the street. with glenda's comments guiding me. go on. abby. go paint with the boys on the block. abby has to experience everything.

i only painted a little bit of a wall and a step. before i handed my brush over to koby and tolo. who were also anxious to participate. but i was thankful. so thankful to be a part of things. to experience community people coming together.

the next day. independence eve. got to see a series of marches (parades) along the streets of gouyave. school children decked out in red. green. and yellow. grenada jerseys (t-shirts). fancy dresses. nutmeg hats. walking along to the grenada birthday song that you constantly hear on the radio these days. pretty adorable.

then thursday. the 7th. the actual independence day. threw together an outfit of the only red, green, and yellow i could find. put a grenada scarf on my head. looked slightly ridiculous. and hopped on a bus with a bunch of fellow grand royians down to the national stadium. joined a sea of national colors. to watch the ceremony. marches by police forces. military. school children. speeches by the prime minister and other "important people." cultural performances by local musicians. quite a show. it lasted quite a while. but i was thankful for the chance to experience it. to wave my grenada flag and be patriotic alongside grenadians.

back in grand roy. there was a small festivity up in the pasture at the school. a cricket match. oil down (the national dish). fellowship. so i spent the afternoon up there. mingling with folks. eating too much. playing barefoot in the field with a bunch of kids. a neat thing. the sort of thing the community should do more than just once a year.

nothing particularly insightful or profound to share further on the subject. just glad to be a part of things. glad to be a part of grenada. glad for grenada to be a part of me.