Nothing we do is complete…

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

Oscar Romero

In the quirky, slightly off-kilter universe where my thoughts like to meander, I’ve come to see our everyday interactions as a sort of horticulture of the human spirit. Imagine, if you will, each of us with a metaphorical watering can in one hand and a bag of emotional fertilizer in the other, pottering about in the gardens of each other’s lives. We’re all amateur gardeners in this scenario, mind you, often unsure which end of the seed is up.

Now, picture planting a tree in someone’s life. Not a literal tree, of course, because that would be odd and probably violate several personal space boundaries. But rather, planting something with our deeds and words that grows over time. You share a laugh with a stranger over a mislabeled piece of produce at the grocery store, and perhaps you’ve just planted a sapling of joy. Or you offer a word of encouragement to a friend feeling as low as a root vegetable, and voilà, you’ve fertilized their resilience.

The thing about planting these metaphorical trees is that we rarely get to see them grow. It’s a bit like baking a cake and never getting to eat it, or worse, someone else eats it and you’re just there, covered in flour, hoping it tasted good. We invest our time, our love, our quirks into the soil of others’ lives with no guarantee of witnessing the bloom. Yet, there’s something hilariously noble in this garden of unseen greenery we cultivate.

Every so often, you catch a glimpse of your horticultural handiwork. A friend recalls a silly joke you made years ago that helped them through a tough time, and you realize, “Ah, so that’s where I planted that chuckleberry bush.” It’s in these moments that the absurdity and beauty of our shared human experience come full circle.

So, let’s keep tending to our gardens, scattering seeds of kindness with the same whimsical hope that one day, they might just sprout into something beautiful. And if, along the way, we end up with a few unexpected weeds or accidentally water someone’s shoes, well, that’s just part of the charm.

After all, in the grand, slightly skewed landscape of life, every gardener has a story, and every tree, seen or unseen, has its roots in the rich soil of our collective, comedic journey.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand & Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.