…stays under the fruit tree. I volunteer for this organization called The Caring Community. I volunteered to do things for others. Or so I thought.
One fine fall day, I found myself under a starfruit tree with a woman who has become a good friend. We were harvesting the fruit generously donated by the homeowner. As we bent and stretched and climbed up and down ladders to get as much of the fruit for the food bank as we could, we chatted about this and that. We both were experiencing the challenges of how to take care of someone we loved. We talked about the difficulty of helping someone know when it was time to accept help, and how to do that without making them feel like they were losing something, or being restricted.
We didn’t solve either of our dilemmas that day, but I think we both walked away feeling a little less alone with our burdens. We joked a bit about therapy under the fruit tree, and each felt a little lighter with our burdens shared.
I walked away from my short time under that tree feeling good in mind, body and soul. I had contributed to the betterment of my community. My body had gotten a great all-around workout and I had connected with another human in a sincere and authentic sharing that helped us both.
As we walked away, agreeing that “What happens under the starfruit tree stays under the starfruit tree!”, I reflected on how much the world needs things like this. We need the simple gratification that comes from coming together for the pure joy of giving ourselves.
Yesterday I gathered with some wonderful women from The Caring Community who came together to create gifts for our upcoming volunteer appreciation day. We had such fun, creating teas, salves and medicine balls to give in appreciation of all the volunteers that come to our gardens and trees to help provide fresh food for food banks.
In the garden and under the trees we have not solved all the problems of the world, although sometimes we think can! We always walk away feeling hopeful for the future of our world, and deeply satisfied that we’ve done our best to do our part. For me, volunteer appreciation day isn’t just about thanking the volunteers for their time. It’s acknowledging the gifts that we give each other when we volunteer. It’s thanking the people who show up, full of love and ready to do what it takes to help someone else. It’s thanking them not just for what they give to the gardens, but what we give to each other.
I hope to see you volunteering with us, or with any organization. I promise you’ll get more than you give, exponentially. You’ll find all sorts of different people in the garden, each bringing what they can to our efforts. I’ll be the one saying “Hey, can you guys work while you talk?” 😊