Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is a treasure sitting just outside the western portion of the Washington DC beltway.
The Mosaic group decided walking and talking among the blooming gardens (specifically in July & August- Hosta Garden, Herb Garden, Perennial Garden, Butterfly Garden, White Garden, Bold Garden, Salvia Collection, Hydrangeas, Container Plantings, Crepe Myrtles, Ferns & Fern Allies, Annual Plantings, Aquatic Plants, Grasses) would be a healthy place to prayerfully consider the flooding in and around the area of Houston, TX and the recent events in Charlottesville, VA.
Our path took us over bridges, beside ponds, through patches of flowering native plants and up a corkscrew path to this open air gazebo that looked out over the whole park. We sat down and started to discuss what was on our minds from all of the recent events.
Interestingly, the first topic we discussed as a group was the recent reports of the megachurch pastor and televangelist Joel Osteen and his Houston, TX based church that decided not to open its doors to flood victims. Our initial reaction was one of shock and disbelief that a Christian community so large and with so many resources would not help the neighbor in need. Our conversation then shifted to the reminder of Jesus' words about judging the actions of others:
Luke 6:42 (NRSV)
42 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
We reminded one another of the times when we walk past obvious examples of people in our neighborhoods or communities without offering a helping hand.
The conversation shifted once again to the the ways social media contributes in both positive and negative ways to our well being and our desire - or lack there of - to engage in timely and socially volatile topics. Some of us believed our culture is still trying to figure out how to best use social media. Some of us were surprised by the passion of certain topics friends from our past expressed online. These topics shifted us to the recent events in Charlottesville and our role as a community of faith.
We agreed in most cases that seem too large and beyond our control, prayer needs to be front and center in all we do. We need to ask the God of love and peace to be a part of the healing and rebuilding of community and relationships. And then another piece of scripture came to mind:
Matthew 5:43-46 (NRSV)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?
A voice came from a path down the hill. It was one of the park staff letting us know the park would close in 20 minutes. We closed our time together thinking about our unique place in the world as ones who choose to following a God who is an agent of love and peace in the world as opposed to be swept up by the new and dramatic events of any given week. We agreed we will always fall short of what we are capable of doing, but will continue to offer one another support and reminders of God grace and new opportunities each day to share love and peace once again.