Take Time to Smell the Roses
By: Susan Naslund
I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear, the song of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am his own.
And the joys we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.
UMC Hymn #314, “In the Garden”
Bonnie Andrews first learned about working in the soil while helping her father plant a vegetable garden at her childhood home. Tarrying alongside her dad, she fell in love with making things grow.
Along with that early tutoring, Bonnie has relied on the “Sunset Garden Book” and master gardening television shows (and more recently YouTube videos and Pinterest) to glean everything she knows about planting, watering, and pruning. Today, the Good Shepherd Ministry Center enjoys the results of Bonnie’s dedication to learning.
When the Good Shepherd Ministry Center was formed a few years ago, Bonnie had her eyes open for ways she could help. While volunteering to refresh the Bethlehem Food Pantry, Bonnie discovered the garden across the street that needed rejuvenating, as well. First planted by members of the former El Cajon United Methodist Church, the roses memorialize the lives of loved ones who have passed away.
After many hours of back-breaking work, all of the dead wood was cut away, weeds were pulled, and a drip sprinkler system was installed. In time, the plants showed new signs of life and buds appeared. Now, the memorial rose garden outside Holmes Hall is a beautiful testament to Bonnie’s talent and care.
Bonnie goes by about once a week to tend to the variety of roses and other plants. She is anxious for the time when children can return to school at the center. They often pause on the playground to look over the fence at the colorful flowers. As a former kindergarten teacher, the kids seem to sense her eagerness to engage with them and to answer their questions.
The children aren’t the only ones interested in the garden. Drawn by the scent of the petals, guests of the pantry often peer in to see the display. There is hope that the time is not too far off when they will be invited in to gather in the quiet space, too.
“It fulfills our mission of being an active church that has many activities that are not just for the members, but also for our neighbors,” Bonnie recently said about Foothills and the Good Shepherd Ministry Center. All are welcome to stop by to commune with nature in these glorious flower beds. Thank you, Bonnie, for your commitment to preserving the memorial rose garden so that it can be enjoyed by so many.