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The Garden that Jack Built

by Rick Beneteau
from “A Large Slice of Life to Go, Please!”


They arrive daily. Sometimes a single laborer but most often a crew of a half dozen. They dig, they shovel dirt, they pour sand, they lay interlocking block, and they move large boulders and small blocks and logs. Finally, they plant ornamental trees and shrubs.

From my 9th floor balcony where I often bring my laptop to write, I can gaze out at the magnificent Detroit skyline and watch the large lake freighters and pleasure boats pass by. On the trail in the riverpark I can also watch the thousands of daily visitors walk, bike and rollerblade. Very inspiring. However, it is what is happening directly below me, on a small piece of turf that is holding my attention these days.

What was only an empty muddy lot of few weeks ago is being transformed into a most beautiful rock garden - stone by stone, plant by plant, day by day. Much like a jigsaw puzzle that started as a pile of tiny cardboard pieces and ends as a complete picture.

I've witnessed on more than one occasion these landscapers tearing down a small section they had just built only to change the shape. They are obviously following a design but when what was once on paper became reality, they chose to make adjustments to their plan - to make it better.

One morning while having coffee and watching the sunrise, I noticed that someone had destroyed the section they had built the night before. I took this rather personally and became angry with the thoughtless vandal who chose to destroy this work in progress. I didn't happen to witness the crew's reaction to the destruction but by the time I next looked down later that day, the damage had been repaired and a new section was being worked on.

On mornings when it’s raining, they don't show up. They can't, of course, work the ground when it's wet. No doubt, they are putting this off-time to good use spending time with family and friends, and resting up, as this is afterall, hard work.

The most impressive thing I've noticed about all of this is that most of these laborers take time to stand back and take an admiring look at their progress. In fact, the leader of this crew, the one who shows up alone on certain days, is always the last to leave, and although I'm too far away to see the details of his face, I can tell that when he takes a long, last look before he leaves in the evening, it's beaming with absolute pride!

This emerging rock garden is a perfect example of the Balance we all need in our lives. Time to plan, time to work, time to spend with those we love, time to adjust, time to rebuild and time to sit back, admire and be proud of all that we have accomplished.

What was once a patch of mud has become a place of beauty that will impact thousands of people in a most wonderful way.

I ask, shouldn't our lives be like the building of a rock garden?

©2003 Rick Beneteau

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