This morning my daughter and I planted our garden. We’ll never see the fruit.
In a few months, we’ll move thirty miles down the road from Durham to a new home in Wake County. Today we woke up, the ground soft from the rain. We turned over soil, loosened the surly roots of crabgrass and dandelion that crept in over the winter. We pulled out the seashell decorations and twig forts that occupied the little ones through early spring.
by: Rev. Melissa Florer-Bixler
I wasn’t sure we’d put in a garden this year. But yesterday Congress passed their newest attempt at replacing the Affordable Care Act. And I knew it was time.
I watched with a heavy heart as the votes ticked up on CNN. I thought of my friends with lupus, liver cancer, children I love who have heart conditions and Down Syndrome, the older adults in my church, all those who watched in panic at their uncertain future.
I heard Congressmen, older white men, tell reporters that preexisting conditions were the result of poor life choices. I heard others say that those impacted by the changes may have to decide if they were willing to move to a new state. Or they will choose to die, was the unspoken consequence.
So my daughter and I picked through my bag for seeds we got from the public library. I gingerly separated the tomatoes, extras given to me by a friend. We planted a garden for the new occupants of this house, those who would come after us. We would get nothing from this labor. It was an act of love.
I picked bush beans, knowing that the new owners may not want to put up poles for sweet peas. I fused over the tomatoes, resigned myself to the possibility that they might not get staked up and would stretch out over the ground, choke out the broccoli. Maybe the new owner would not want a garden at all, maybe they would pull everything up, raze the beds.
But no matter. We’d offered what we had. If they did keep the garden we hoped they would let our neighbors share in the fruit as we had, that they’d let the little boys up the street help with the planting, that they’d give a tomato or two the Antoinette who plucked them on her way back from her job at the hotel.
I know there is more legislative wrangling ahead before the future of health care is decided. I’ve logged my calls to Senators Burr and Tillis. There will be endless amendments. It may not get through.
But this morning it’s the cruelty of it all that is weighing me down, leading me out to the garden. I’m not sure what else I can do today, waiting for the budget office to release their report, for more white men to whisper in corners, jockeying to make sure 24 million Americans find health insurance unaffordable within the next ten years.
Today we can put seeds in the ground. I can show my daughter that other lives are tied to our lives, lives wholly unconnected to ours. We can leave a gift for someone else, a gift of her hands and mine. We can tell another story in the dirt, the story of the way we belong to one another, how the flourishing of another is caught up in our flourishing.
That’s what we can do today.
Melissa Florer-Bixler lives in Durham’s Walltown neighborhood and is pastor of Raleigh Mennonite Church. To the delight of her three year-old, the broccoli they planted after writing this piece has already sprouted.