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Planting Flowers│Lyn Swierski




Planting Flowers
Lyn Swierski

2016 was a dark and difficult year around the world. In my home country, the United States, we endured a depressing presidential campaign and the election of a person that most of the world views with fear and uncertainty. The heart-breaking refugee crisis, continuing terrorist attacks, the rise of right-wing politicians, and the deaths of far too many beloved public figures, including our own Riji-cho, Sister Kazuko Watanabe.

I found myself at the beginning of 2017 with a feeling of great heaviness, and very little hope in my heart. How can we continue to move forward in this uncertain time? Where are we heading? I could try to imagine, but none of my imaginings were very positive.

Then, in early January, I saw this little cartoon online:

My first thought was to say, "Ha ha. I see. The only thing we can be sure of, is what we do for ourselves. Got it." It took a few seconds for the second meaning to reach me... and then I smiled, and realized how simple the message is: the gardener is expecting something beautiful to come, because he has planted something that will be beautiful. Flowers don't spring up automatically, and you can't expect them to just magically appear to make your life brighter. If you want to be surrounded by "the positive," you, yourself, have to make the effort and do all you can to make sure that will happen.

We have little control over world events, of course, but we can choose how we spend our time and energy in our daily lives to make our world a more positive place. Mother Teresa said,

"We cannot do great* things while on this Earth,
but we can do small things with great love."

(* "great" here means "big")

It's up to you, and me, and each one of us. So go out there and plant some flowers! It's almost certain that something positive will follow.

(I actually couldn't find the cartoon when I went back to look, so asked one of our graduates, Megumi Iwaskai-Makino, from the English Drama Club, and Jidogaka, to draw this cartoon. Thank you, Meg!)