By Linda Stewart
It is not often that all eleven staff members are in the office simultaneously. Today we were and we witnessed the impact of another’s assumption of where beauty and creativity lay, or in this instance, did not lie.
We share the property with a portion of the community. As we work from the building which is the old presbytery, the community has been granted permission (by us) to develop the once neglected backyard, beyond the mulberry tree, as a community vegetable garden. For four years it has been an harmonious relationship, until today.
Christmas last year when the only two male workers were unwinding on a tea break, they decided the flower garden, this side of the mulberry tree, needed a splash of festive cheer. They settled on a dry arrangement and decorated a small tree, now dead yet appealing with the tortured shapes of small branches. The boys decided this would be the peace tree and set about decorating it accordingly.
The tinkling ornaments, wind chimes, hanging critters, miniature hanging windmill, baubles and beads were a delight and source of humour for all staff as we sat outside on our tea breaks. Not only was the revived tree a work of art it was the topic of many conversations evoking levity and lively debate between the lovely boys and other staff members. Every now and again a new decoration appeared and the boys’ creativity regained our attention. The boys were proud of their creation that brightened a once drab corner of the garden.
The tree played a therapeutic role in the work day of eleven people who spend their days supporting parents in various stages of trauma.
This morning, the boys were not happy.
Overnight the “peace tree” had been unceremoniously uprooted and dumped into the garbage bin, tinkling bells, decorations and all. There was much discussion about who could, or would, do such a thing. Should we retrieve it from the garbage bin or start afresh? It was no good, the boys were beyond understanding why anyone would do something so insensitive.
After much deliberation, and a few cups of tea, it was decided to retrieve and reinstate the peace tree. Sadly the night in the bin had tainted its charm and the tree was no longer the sparkling display of festive creativity it had once been. It looked as dejected as the boys were forlorn.
In life’s vast array of dilemmas it is an insignificant event but the tree brought laughter and release into our part of the garden. How easy it is to tolerate, or discard, what others celebrate.