To my father

To Dad, a thanks.

There is a beautiful garden just past the back deck of my parent’s house. It has years of kids’ footprints embedded in its soil, from picking its raspberries for a quick snack or tromping through its lettuce in a game of hide and seek. We all “helped” in the garden, learning how to plant, compost and thin, but it really was my dad’s efforts.  He was the one who started the seedlings in February, carefully tended under heat lamps, who prepared the soil every spring and who diligently weeded after work and on weekends.  The garden was an extension of our family, a place to explore and learn, with love and care, thanks to him.

My father walked me through an entire other school of learning about our natural world: I learned the migration of the birds, and what animal tracks look like. I know now how to read weather patterns and to find my way on a hiking trail in the Berkshires or through the fields of a farmer in northern Uganda.   I have been tuned to listen, connect and nurture the environment around me.

Now that I’ve been fortunate to travel and meet other families, some who have become a part of my own, my knowledge of our interconnectedness has deepened, beyond the environment in my backyard to a global one.  What an incredible gift we’ve all been given; not only our immediate surroundings but the cultures, the people, the backyards.  It’s all an extension of that garden.

As I meet new people through our work with JUST and see the beauty but also the cruelty in what we share, I’m becoming increasingly aware of the incredible possibility that exists to thrive on our interconnectedness.  We are driven at JUST to bridge that gap, to help us all realize how we are connected and what joy it can bring everyone.

My father taught me the value of connecting with the world around me, instilling drive, adventure and service.  I have an appreciation not just for my life, but also for my relationship and responsibility to life itself.  Thank you, dad, for not only teaching me how to garden, but also how to cherish its beauty and help it grow.

Happy Father’s Day.

Natalie Grillon