I don’t know about you, but I have had my first taste of Spring and I am ready! I have spent time on my deck reading in the warm sunshine. I have seen and heard wildlife become more active. And store shelves that I perused in December are now filled with garden-themed merchandise and décor. If you are a gardener like my husband Jeff, you are most likely already making plans for what you want your garden to look like this summer. I admit, I am not a gardener. He graciously accepts requests for my favorites, and I pitch in when he asks, but the strategy, execution and maintenance all fall to him. His talent is getting things to grow, my strength is figuring out how to preserve, prepare and share our harvest. By working together (with cooperation from mother nature preferred), our garden thrives.
Just as our garden planning is underway, so are plans for the garden at Silver Lake. This year, camp will have a Garden Manager. This is exciting news! The Garden Manager will be organizing and planning the layout for the garden remotely and then working on site occasionally throughout the spring. Program Director Jennifer Kronholm Clark says, “I expect we might be in the situation where the Garden Manager needs help making things happen, and then I figure out how to do it! So, a pool of volunteers could definitely be helpful.” In addition, there will also be a garden curriculum, so “there will definitely be garden work this year!” says Jenn.
All this thinking about gardening reminded me of an excerpt from “Devotions from the Garden” by Miriam Drennan that I would like to share with you. I came across it some time ago while preparing a devotional for one of our Board of Directors meetings:
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ – Galatians 6:2
"Some plants, like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, hollyhocks, delphiniums, and gladiolus, need extra support in order to thrive. Their flowers or fruits are usually too heavy for the plant to support and sometimes that fruit could rot if it touches the soil or scald if not protected by the foliage. The solution to this is staking. A branch, a length of bamboo, or even a store-bought stake will work. Gardeners simply take a thin strip of cloth and, at intervals, tie the plant to the stake. Whatever staking system is used, the function is the same: provide extra support to the plant when its blooms and fruit are more than the plant itself can bear.
"Sometimes we try to support more people and problems that we can bear on our own. The burdens of life can seem impossible for us to manage. And that is when we can take the idea of staking out of the garden and into our friendships."
[We can be the stake for a camper that is away from home for the first time, for the summer staff member that is struggling to stay energized during this summer’s two-week sessions, and for the year-round staff who have been carrying the responsibility of keeping camp up and running safely during a global pandemic.]
"When we offer our time, our listening ear, and our prayers, we can support those whom God loves the same way that a stake supports a plant in the garden. When we willingly bind ourselves to this person for their sake, their burdens will no longer be as heavy. In fact, those burdens become more purposeful – refining character, strengthening faith, and eventually providing an avenue of ministry to someone walking a similar path."
Spring is a time to emerge. For some of us, that emergence can be a small improvement from the stress, restrictions, and uncertainty that the past year has brought. Let us pick up our metaphorical stakes and carry them with us to see where they are needed. Or let us not be afraid to speak out and ask for help if we could use a stake ourselves. When you look into any garden, you are bound to see a variety of plants and stakes of different species, materials, and sizes. Some plants need no stakes, some need only one, and some need multiple. What matters is that together with nurturing, support, and care in the beautiful northwest hills of Sharon, Connecticut, seeds can be planted, and they will thrive.
And that, my friends, is what we strive to do at Silver Lake. To BE the stake, to ACCEPT the stake, to ACKNOWLEDGE those who always have a stake ready, and to LOVE those who need a stake.
Silver Lake Board of Directors
For information on how you can help with this summer’s garden initiative, please reach out to Jennifer Kronholm Clark