Fruit in a Barren Land

I met with a good friend today who is a member of our community. I was sharing with her what I was feeling these days with people who've left, who've decreased their level of support, and who've pulled back in some way or another. I told her I find it hard to be optimistic in the face of such loss. It doesn't seem to matter how hard I try or work, it's like I'm carrying a leaky pail. She admitted to me that she would like to be a part of a success story just once. All the effort that goes into doing the things we do at the grassroots level is just that: grassroots. It's meaningful, but small. There's no wave of people coming. There's no fanfare. No recognition. There's no measurable gain that we can enjoy. Although everything we do we do with a clear conscience, certain that we are to be who we are and doing what we do, there's never any marked victory. Sure, we sold land and paid off our debt. But this doesn't measure the health or success of our community. In fact, it could very well affect it adversely. But I know what she means. I've often wondered why, in spite of our constant efforts to be and do good, there's no profitable gain from it. I want to be a part of a success story too. I would love to be presently rewarded. But no. We aren't and I'm not sure we ever will be. (Pull the camera back for wide-angle shot): This very desire... to be a part of a success story... is the problem! It blinds us to the present. It pollutes our thoughts and actions with ambitious desires for a lofty goal, the fulfillment of our visions and dreams that have been fabricated in our discontented hearts. It also blinds us to the subtle rewards we do enjoy that can't be calculated. Are we content to be and do good and leave the results up to the Other? We can plant. We can water. We can tend. But the increase is a gift. The fine art photograph is the creation of my friend Mark Hemmings, of Shinjuku Park, Tokyo, Japan. It captures a barren tree in winter. Who knows what spring will bring?
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