There’s something very “fruitful” about this idea: Bloom where God plants you. It really illustrates the drastic difference between success that belongs to you and fruit of the Kingdom that is produced when you truly see yourself as God’s plant… His creation… one through whom He can get His work done, if you offer yourself to be used. The simple, not easy, way this is accomplished is by truly recognizing that wherever you are, you are Christ’s ambassador. Whoever you are with… family or strangers… that is your community. Your job, wherever you are, is to see and love the people you are with, responding to their needs that you open yourself up to see… loving them fully without condition. It is by living as a citizen of the Kingdom and seeing your life as an offering that Christ’s healing will be brought to the people that He puts in front of you. And, consequently, your own poverty will be revealed to you and be healed as well.
St. Basil the Great poses these questions: “Did you not come forth naked from the womb and will you not return naked to the earth? Where then did you obtain your belongings? If you say that you acquired them by chance, then you deny God, since you neither recognize your Creator, nor are you grateful to the one who gave these things to you. But if you acknowledge that they were given to you by God, then tell me, for what purpose did you receive them?” If we do acknowledge that the stuff we have is from God, then why do we have what we have? Why would God give unequally to those He values equally? The more I experience community with the poor, the more it becomes clear what the answer is: community with the poor. St. Basil continues to discuss how the poor should benefit from what the rich are given and the rich should benefit from the patient endurance of the poor. The reason we have unequal amounts of stuff is so that we come together! And because we are literally spending time with Him, the one who equates Himself with the hungry and naked, the joy and healing is not able to be expressed in words. It’s not the “feel good” thing that people talk about when they “give back.” It’s the true joy of the Kingdom that comes when His people are gathered together around His table, serving each other and feeding each other in multiple ways.
The wisdom and love of God is so amazing to me. He doesn’t just want you to come together with those you can provide for so that their needs are met. He wants you to be free from yourself as well! He wants you to focus on others so that you are free from your desires and worries. He wants you to see that He plants you where you are at any moment with the people you are with for their sake. You will experience real fulfillment and come to know your true self if you look to satisfy others. If you exist in the delusion that trying to satisfy yourself will comfort you and lead you to who you are, you will likely live in the misery of your own constant desire for what you don’t have. Last month I met Ashley at a gathering of people who serve breakfast to the homeless community every Saturday morning at an outdoor park in Detroit. As Ashley was coming through the food line, she hugged every person and thanked them, sharing with them that God loves them. We later had the pleasure of hearing her story. What she told my friends and I stunned us. She said with a smile, “God made me homeless about a year ago.” After everyone left the park, we saw that Ashley was staying. She told us that she likes to stay and make sure all the trash is picked up. Bloom where God plants you.
Katrina Bitar (SVOTS ’09) has been doing youth ministry since 2001. She has been the Director of the St. Nicholas Camping Program in LA since 2003, and is currently the Director of the YES Program (Youth Equipped to Serve) of FOCUS North America.