I’ve just come across the most inspiring man in a very uninspiring place.
We’re currently motor homing around Europe, and he was running the strangest pitch we’ve had so far – at a stadium car park in the city of Freidburg, Germany. This type of pitch is purely utilitarian, for a one-night stopover as opposed to a proper campsite. We didn’t have any expectations.
This was a brand new development offering parking for thousands of vehicles attending stadium events and used outwith the events as a motorhome stopover. Miles of grey are partitioned by small areas filled with poor quality grass and same species trees a prescribed distance apart. It looked stark, barren.
As I approached the little office, a long-haired man in his 60s or so came out to meet me and apologised that he had been busy in his garden! I didn’t quite know what he meant – a garden in this stark environment!?
I went into his office and admired the plants and his Budha statue which was not for show! We made the transaction – €13 for one night. I liked his statue, his plants, his vibe – and we chatted a bit about this and that and then went about our business.
Later I went back to the office to check where the water supply was, and while he was busy with another client, I wandered around the back.
I was caught off guard by the little bit of heaven he had created! His garden, hidden behind the small office was an oasis in a desert of concrete. Beautiful flowers, bees and insects buzzing… truly delightful!
When he was free we chatted some more and he told me he used to run a similar site in the city, in which he had created a big garden that he had been nurturing for over 20 years. It had since been demolished as the site became the location of a new housing development. I could have cried at the thought of his beautiful garden being decimated! But he was undeterred, quietly going about his business, making this unhospitable area a beautiful garden too. Taking it in his stride and starting over. A common Buddhist concept – the only consistent thing in life is change – perhaps helping him on his way.
The official plans for this new area are rigid and he’s not supposed to be planting anything … it should be just the prescribed trees 5 meters apart, with the bad quality dried-out grass, and nothing else.
Instead, he’s curated a chunk of heaven! The soil started like clay, poorly nourished, brutal and unforgiving. Gradually this has improved with the lovely plants he is nurturing. The bees and insects finally find a refuelling stop on their treacherous journey across the barren land!
This man is what the earth needs, and to be honest, what I needed to see.
It’s far too easy to feel overwhelmed and that nothing on a personal level is worthwhile. But here is one man, quietly doing his thing, helping the bees and inspiring goodness knows how many people passing through.
As we left and stopped at a hardware store for some essential bits for our van, I saw some beautiful plants outside. I knew I had to gift something for this beautiful garden. I bought a lovely flowering bush and returned to the site to leave it at his door.
I hope the gift makes him smile and returns the gift of inspiration.