“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.” ~Martin Luther
I love flowers.
They say what our emotions can’t, from a dozen long stem roses carrying the message of love at a wedding to carnations bearing grief at a makeshift memorial on a city street.
Flowers are hard to come by in Uptown but when you see them, they take your breath away. Like this petunia growing out of the cracks in an alley behind Friendly Towers.
Or the flowers inside our private garden at JPUSA, thanks to our resident gnome, Ted Jindrich.
(You have to admit . . .)
Ted has always been interested in plants, way before he arrived at JPUSA in 1973. Even as a kid, he’d bring growing stuff home, including one seedling that’s grown into a tall cedar tree.
“I just like growing stuff,” Ted smiled.
One of the main gardens Ted tends is located inside the gated playground at the Friendly Towers. It’s a bit of Eden in Uptown, minus the serpent, but with a few mischievous city mice instead. And just like the residents who live at this faith based community, the garden is colorful and a bit wild. He planted perennials from seeds and welcomes the colors back each year.
You’ll find all kinds of flowers blooming. Bright red tulips and buttery daffodils in the spring, crimson mums and purple Asters in the fall.
Ted has another garden, too, that being on top of Weiss Hospital on Wilson and Clarendon. He is one of several urban farmers growing an assortment of greens, including kale and arugula. A few of the urban farmers raise chickens on the Weiss rooftop, so if you hear a cock-a-doodle-do in the morning, it’s not your imagination. It’s your neighbor.
But the real seeds that Ted is proud of planting are those that have taken root in people. In 2003, Ted started sending money to a young Sudanese man in Africa, helping pay for his high school and college. Now that boy is a young man with a degree and a good job. He has invited Ted over for a trip to stay with his family in Kenya.
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” 2 Corinthians 9:6 NIV
Ted’s Excellent African Adventure will take place in December.
Ted is looking forward to seeing the plants and flowers of Africa but most likely won’t be bringing home a papyrus plant in his carry-on.
They won’t allow it.
So what can we do to keep things blooming at JPUSA?
Ted is always looking for weed whackers, and would appreciate if you bring your plates and cups back inside after enjoying your time in the garden. People can be as much of a pest in a garden as a burrowing rodent. And you can’t blame your dishes on them.
Tammy will have an essay included in the forthcoming book Soul Bare: Raw Reflections on Being Human, being published in 2016 by Inter Varsity Press.