"Carl's Garden"
(by Bill Walker)

6-21-2007 Church Within SOW Seeds Service - Story #447

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Greetings my Dearest Sisters and Brothers, and welcome again to Church Within's Story of the Week ["SOW Seeds”].

Well go figure!! Today is the first day of Summer 2007 (well… at least in the northern hemisphere anyway); (…at least it always used to be June 21st… every once in a while lately they seem to change it on us for some barely explained reason).

Anyway… a little Light and Life Sanctuary update for y'all. Yesterday I Finally installed most of the 4X6 treated posts for the 8' “deer fence” surrounding the new 8,000 sq. ft. addition to the Faith Garden that I had mentioned I was starting on back in 2004. Due to a displaced hip I first suffered in the spring of 2003 while being stupid, and then with the associated relapses in the springs of the following two years… it has taken me until Now to finally be able to get moving on it again. It should be fully closed in within the next few weeks, whereupon I will be able to get the irrigation in and plant a New variety of Everbearing Raspberries that will produce past July into and thru the Fall season… Plus 9 new blueberry bushes, another Cherry tree we have growing in a large pot… and a number of other fruits yet to be determined (probably more Grapes as well). We now have our well established plot of “Canby” Thornless raspberries (the first ones we planted back in 2001), plus the just now established “Fall Gold” Everbearing Raspberries we planted in 2004, and the July Crop “Transparent” Raspberries planted in 2005 that should reach full production by next year. Soon I will be able to plant the “Caroline” Everbearing Raspberries in the new addition that will give us a steady supply of the Four Best Premium Varieties of Raspberries from late June until the ground freezes in November or December. I sell Raspberries and other fruits at our local Farmer's Market to help support the Church expenses… now I will be able to sell them into October instead of just in the month of July as in years past. Pears, Apples and Plums are looking like they will be abundant this year, as well as our Blackberries and Grapes. We should as well have a decent amount of Awesome Peaches this year, though not yet enough to sell at the “Market” seeing as how the Peach Tree is only about 1/3 of it's eventual size.

The Church Within Backhoe is still able to do a significant amount of work carving Gardens and Roads our of our rocky Hillside… thought it is getting overdue for a serious re-build in the not-so-distant future. Last week I finally completed a new access road from the upper property to the mid-level garden area that I started 3 years ago and was unable to continue… do to the hip injury. I will up-date the pictures at the Web-Site as soon as I have a few extra days to spare. [Hey! It could happen!] ;-)

Anyone need a personal or family Spiritual Retreat? It's Free for anyone willing to help us work the property while they are here! We still have openings in July, August and September for anyone who wants to sign up! Meals and Hot Tub are included in the free retreat!

This week's SOW Seeds Story, contributed by: Patije

Story of the Week
Carl's Garden
by Bill Walker

Carl was a quiet man. He didn't talk much. He would always greet you with a big smile and a firm handshake.

Even after living in our neighborhood for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him very well.

Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning. The lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us.

He had a slight limp from a bullet wound received in W.WII. Watching him, we worried that, although he had survived W.W.II, he may not make it through our changing uptown neighborhood with its ever- increasing random violence, gangs and drug activity.

When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers for caring for the gardens behind the minister's residence, he responded in his characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed up.

He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always feared finally happened.

He was just finishing his watering for the day when three gang members approached him. Ignoring their attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked, "Would you like a drink from the hose?"

The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, "Yeah, sure," with a malevolent little smile.

As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two grabbed Carl's arm, throwing him down. As the hose snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl's assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled.

Carl tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his bad leg. He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came running to help him.

Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window, he couldn't get there fast enough to stop it. "Carl, are you okay? Are you hurt?" the minister kept asking, as he helped Carl to his feet.

Carl just passed a hand over his brow and sighed, shaking his head.

"Just some punk kids. I hope they'll wise-up someday." His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. He adjusted the nozzle again and started to water.

Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, "Carl, what are you doing?"

"I've got to finish my watering. It's been very dry lately," came the calm reply.

Satisfying himself that Carl really was all right, the minister could only marvel. Carl was a man from a different time and place.

A few weeks later the three returned. Just as before, their threat was unchallenged. Carl again offered them a drink from his hose.

This time they didn't rob him. They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched him head to foot in the icy water.

When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just done.

Carl just watched them. Then he turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked up his hose, and went on with his watering.

The summer was quickly fading into fall Carl was doing some tilling when he was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches.

As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors, reaching down for him. He braced himself for the expected attack.

"Don't worry old man, I'm not gonna' hurt you this time." The young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl. As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and handed it to Carl.

"What's this?" Carl asked.

"It's your stuff," the man explained. "It's your stuff back. Even the money in your wallet." "I don't understand," Carl said. "Why would you help me now?"

The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease. "I learned something from you," he said. "I ran with that gang and hurt people like you. We picked you because you were old, and we knew we could do it. But every time we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn't hate us for hating you. You kept showing love against our hate." He stopped for a moment.

"I couldn't sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back." He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say. "That bag's my way of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess." And with that, he walked off down the street.

Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it. He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at the young bride, who still smiled back at him from all those years ago.

He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people attended his funeral in spite of the weather.

In particular, the minister noticed a tall young man he didn't know, sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church.

The minister spoke of Carl's garden as a lesson in life. In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, "Do your best, and make your garden as beautiful as you can. We will never forget Carl and his garden."

The following spring another flyer went up. It read: "Person needed to care for Carl's garden."

The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the minister's office door.

Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the flyer. "I believe this is my job, if you'll have me," the young man said.

The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl. He knew that Carl's kindness had turned this man's life around.

As the minister handed him the keys to the garden shed, he said, "Yes, go take care of Carl's garden, and honor him."

The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers and vegetables, just as Carl had done.

In that time, he went to college, got married and became a prominent member of the community. But he never forgot his promise to Carl's memory, and he kept the garden as beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept it.

One day he approached the new minister and told him he couldn't care for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy smile, "My wife just had a baby boy last night, and we're bringing him home on Saturday."

"Well, congratulations!" said the minister, as he was handed the garden shed keys. "That's wonderful! What's the baby's name?"

"Carl," he replied.

Pastor's Quote of the Week
        Jesus did not hesitate to appropriate the better half of a Scripture while he repudiated the lesser portion. His great exhortation, "Love your neighbor as yourself," he took from the Scripture which reads: "You shall not take vengeance against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus appropriated the positive portion of this Scripture while rejecting the negative part. He even opposed negative or purely passive nonresistance. Said he: "When an enemy smites you on one cheek, do not stand there dumb and passive but in positive attitude turn the other; that is, do the best thing possible actively to lead your brother in error away from the evil paths into the better ways of righteous living." Jesus required his followers to react positively and aggressively to every life situation. The turning of the other cheek, or whatever act that may typify, demands initiative, necessitates vigorous, active, and courageous expression of the believer's personality.

(From: The Urantia Papers - Paper-159 Section-5)

The Prayer
Dear God,        
        Help me to “Turn the other Cheek” in Love rather than in defiance or submission.

You ALL are Within the Infinitely Loving Embrace of our Universal Parent,

The Creator's Eternal Love to all of You,
Pastor Daniel

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