Twelve stalwarts braved the heat and humidity on a Saturday morning at the monthly gardening and clean-up project at St. Luke’s Gethsemane Campus. It was a varied bunch. Young volunteers sharing family time with father or mother, plus older volunteers like me from organizations like Christian Community Service
Center (CCSC), St. Luke’s and other churches.  A young man named Josh from a
local Baptist church arrived early like me. He would do the “heavy lifting” later with wheelbarrow and tons of dirt that needed to be shifted. Everyone had an ebullient spirit and we got to work. Some pruned the plants, to fill baskets with the abundant produce for the food pantry. Others got the hard job of weeding, and still others planted a fresh crop of radishes and lettuce.

I had not been to the Gethsemane Campus before and was impressed with the lovely church grounds, budding garden, and the food pantry where produce from the garden is given away to the needy. The garden has a plethora of plants from peppers of all kinds, cabbages, lettuce, and eggplants, all ripening in the Houston sun.

I had wanted to visit our Bellaire campus for some time, because I am so
interested in the work we are doing there to help refugees. After living for years in Paris, I have seen up close the 100,000 or more refugees, mostly women and children, arriving from Syria. Their stories are harrowing. Their homes have been blown to rubble, and it has taken all their resources both physical and financial, to first cross the Mediterranean, and then into western Europe. For those refugees who have made it to Houston from Africa, the Middle East or elsewhere, I can imagine what a long and arduous process that was.

I worked with my church in Paris, The American Cathedral, in helping these people who can’t return to their homeland, even though most of them would have
preferred to stay in their own country. I always remember the words of our
minister in Paris. She said, “As Christians, we are obligated to help those less
fortunate than ourselves. We must share the abundance we have.” In my opinion, we are all called to be Good Samaritans.

Since February of this year, as part of our St. Luke’s credo to “give ourselves away in generosity and service”, I have been volunteering at the front desk. The work of answering the phones was especially gratifying during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. So many of our own parishioners were affected, and we received calls from many others desperate for help.

I really enjoyed gardening day at Gethsemane. I made some new friends, got some great exercise in the bright sunshine, (warmed by the Holy Spirit), and received a spiritual boost. I will go back!