Last year, I operated from a place of understanding how things should be. The college students at my school should be interested in the social happenings around our nation. The administration at my school, for all their talk about their love of immigration, should be sponsoring and helping put on events that make students aware, that gives them a platform to raise their voice and speak their opinion, and a space learn about new and foreign ideas.
But that’s not what is.
My school is an isolated community that seems to be focused on celebrity pastors, putting on a good show, and “balancing the budget”. The reality stands in a very stark contrast to what should be and is evident by the fruit our school produces.
It is a fruit that is born from seeds that have no voice, no ear, and no interest in what is going on outside of it’s garden. It is a fruit that is worried only about what happens in its gates and what’s easy to deal with. It is a stale fruit. It is a deformed fruit. It is a fruit that’s been pollinated only by its own culture. The fruit of my school is one that is not willing to be touched by other pollen, lest it be sullied. It is a fruit that is toxic. It is a fruit that is bitter. It is the fruit that we have produced. It is not what should be. But it is.
And for a long time, I was mad. I was mad because the fruit was bitter. I was mad because the fruit was toxic. I was mad because the people who fed it to us, who cultivated the fruit-watered it, gave it the right soil to survive, picked away the other plants in the garden-they were the ones spoke of knowing better. They spoke of working towards the production of vibrant, colorful, diversely pollinated fruit and yet they ate the putrid fruit and turned their eyes away from it’s poison. They gave us the decayed fruit and told us that it was okay. And we should have questioned it. We should have examined the fruit, smelled it, spit it out when we tasted its flavor. But the reality was, we believed them. We chewed and chewed and chewed, lifting our hands up for more when we had finished.
And after I saw the reality, I didn’t want any part of it. So I turned away from the bush only to come in contact with another. And another. And another. And when I saw that the fruit had taken over the whole garden, I dug, trying to bury myself away from the sight of it and it’s cloying, mephitic smell.
But God has a way of washing away the topsoil when we try and bury ourselves. And when he did I saw the garden in light of His glory. I saw that I did not have to cultivate the garden as the others were. I saw that I had been given tools to plant new and wonderful ideas. I had been given fertilizer to make sure the plants I planted grew up to be healthy and strong. I had been given an opportunity to see the garden for what it was and not what it should be.
The reality is, I am planted in the garden as much as I have the ability to plant in the garden. I am the gardener and my actions produce fruit.
It was hard for me to look around at the other gardeners mindlessly, blindly planting without question the seeds they were given. It frustrated me to no end and made me bitter with anger. “Dont you see what you are planting,” I wanted to yell, disgusted by the black, gnarled seeds that fell from their fingertips. “Don’t you care that your fruit will be bitter and most of all toxic!”
But in all my looking around, in all of the instances that I stopped to shake my head at what was wrong with the garden, I neglected to plant anything useful, anything bright, any plant that was not already found in abundance in the garden.
But no more. I know what is. I have come to terms with it. I have accepted responsibility for my work in the garden. This coming year, I want to plant loud, vibrant, nutritious fruit that will nourish the minds of my fellow gardeners. I want to plant fruit that they’ve never tasted before–fruit that will make them contemplate and explain the taste of their own fruit. I want to plant fruit that has been pollinated by something OUTSIDE of the garden of my school.
Because I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that our garden can be beautiful. Our garden can be diverse. It can be a garden that has the motivation to nurture a wide variety of fruits, of trees, of flowers, of bushes. But right now it is what it is in this very moment. I am done moaning about what should be because if I continue my fruit won’t be all that they could be. I am a gardener. I see my seeds. I am sure of my tools. And I am committed to plant something that will reflect the radiant, diverse, beautifully unexpected glory of God.