It is one cold night out there. So I am sitting by the fire with a mug of steaming hot chocolate and a cookie trying to think of something to say about Christmas that hasn’t been said a hundred times before. Tonight’s news was filled with more stories of envelopes filled with cash and the world’s anger that Canada blocks yet another attempt to curb climate change. Is it any wonder that peace on earth is a difficult commodity to find these days.
In a different sphere, however, good things are happening all around us. Last night we had a really successful turnout at the community gardens meeting. People in this city are positively enthusiastic about gardening, and not just any gardening, gardening that does no harm to the environment. And community gardens provide an excellent vehicle for building friendships within the city. They help us to produce our own safe, healthy food to eat and flowers to beautify our lives. They can help to build families and neighbourhoods while reducing our dependency on questionable food imported from foreign countries.
Tending a garden isn’t a metaphor for hope; it is the physical embodiment of hope. Every seed that you plant is a pledge of faith that the earth will provide, as it has for all time, for its children. Ever since I started writing these columns last summer, hope for a world lost in a dark wood has been the message. The earth coped with climate change many times before we ever arrived. It will do it again with or without our help. Traditionally its approach has been to create a never ending winter so it can have the time to undo the damage that has brought it to this solution. As much as I love winter, I would rather forego this solution.
Planning a garden is a dream that winter will yield to spring, allowing the earth to awaken to new life once again. It is a recognition that we are not the masters of this earth on which we live. We can never create as God can. We can, however, choose to participate in creation rather than destruction, and in doing so, become partners with the earth and sky in bringing life, joy, beauty and peace to the world.
City of Kawartha Lakes sits in a part of the world blessed with beautiful lakes, rivers, wetlands, forests, fields and an abundance of wildlife. We hold the headwaters of central Ontario. If we, here, in this city, surrounded by so much beauty, can take the time this Christmas to appreciate and be thankful for what we have been given, then there is still hope for tomorrow. Maybe that?s what I like so much about gardening. It forces me to take the time to get down on my knees in the dirt while I weed around the tiny living things that I have planted. The pace of gardening is the pace of life. The rewards are the rewards of life.
The pace of the modern Christmas season with its frenzy of buying has distanced itself from its origins. But when I look back on my own childhood, it isn’t the presents that I remember, it is the Christmas carols and decorating the tree, the Christmas concerts, the whole family playing the new board game that my cousin sent us each year, playing in the snow with my friends and then coming inside to a mug of steaming hot chocolate and a cookie.
So, finally, here is my Christmas wish for us all. “Peace on earth” lives in the heart. It has little to do with soldiers and politicians. It has everything to do with hope. Contrary to popular belief, hope is tangible. It creates its own reality just as hatred does. Hope grows in gardens. It lives in the sunrise on a cold winter morning. Its spirit soars with eagles as they sail on wind currents. It feels like the hugs of our children as they come home for Christmas. Hope is rooted in the seasons, its flavour the sweetness of maple syrup, its scent spring blossoms. Build a world of hope for all and you build a world of peace.
May the breath of life bring hope to each of us this Christmas, hope for a world in which our children and their children can grow old in peace. May we all share a dream of spring even as we celebrate winter. And may our generous spirits combine to make the dream come true. Merry Christmas. See you in the new year.