27 May

It Took A Village, But We Got The Garden Beds Today. You Are The Only Weapon We Have. You Are The Only Weapon We Need.

by Jon Katz

After the news from Texas, I promised myself that I would push the distractions of my life away and focus on doing good as a way to heal.

I have no words and no other weapons to use when children – or anyone – die in the horrific way these children died.

“How many there are who are in a worse state still,” wrote Thomas Merton,”  they never even get as far as contemplation because they are attached to activities and enterprises that seem to be important?”

I have very often in my life been one of those people.

I was forcefully and jarringly reminded of what was important this week and brushed away all the flies and wasps and gnats buzzing around in my head.

We got the raised beds in place in one night, thanks to many people with big hearts.

I wouldn’t say I liked the idea of these sweet people going through a holiday weekend without flowers to plant and beds they could reach. It needed to be done today, although that seemed impossible at first.

At times, I think the modern world is designed to distract us and thus prevent us from any real contemplation or spirituality. We are too busy texting and e-mailing and hating.

Today was a good day for good. The other day I was visiting the Memory Care Unit at the Mansion with Zinnia, and I saw the struggle of these older people to get down on the ground and tend to the garden they loved.

It was wrenching.

Paryese, the Memory Care activities director, was helping the residents and said she wondered out loud if there was any way to get raised garden beds to the gardens so they could stand up and tend to their flowers.

She hardly ever asks for everything; she was thinking out loud.

This lit me up; it was just what I was looking for and waiting to hear. It is about doing good, being helpful, and mattering to others is what it is about.

It took a village to do it. I’m getting good at it.

I called John Rieger at Country Products to review the list and what it would cost for two garden beds, eight more tomato castles, and several bags of good topsoil.

John made up a list, checked to see if he could fill it,  gave me the price, and said it would be ready the following day, which is this morning. He was swamped with work, but he made time to help.

He said if I couldn’t raise the money, he would talk to farmers about giving me used water tubs and hanks that could be transformed into garden beds.

John is such a good man and such a good friend.

Then, I got on the blog and put out a call to help for the Army Of Good. I asked for $400 to help me do this, and I got nearly $500 by morning. I asked for help around dinner time.

The other $100 goes right into my spare and shrinking Mansion and Refugee Fund.

Once again, I thank all of you.

I  went out there, but next came getting it into the car and to the Mansion.

There is a quiet, soft-spoken, hard-working young man, a student working there named Ezra; he helped get the two heavy beds into the car; my car is a small SUV.

He did this work with efficiency and a smile. It was not easy. He is a good person.

Ezra works hard, every day, all summer.

Then, I found a princess to help me tally everything up and pay the bill.

This was Sierra, the Dairy Queen of the County Future Farmer’s Association, FFA, as courteous and helpful as Ezra.  She is a Montana State University student working for John this summer.

I don’t know where he gets these kids, but they are unique.

Sierra is riding in a parade tonight.


Then there was Millie, John’s wife, who answered my telephone calls and helped me get several of the things on my list together.

And finally, as always, there was Maria, who met me at the Mansion and helped me get the beds out of my car. That was not easy either; she had to haul them out of the car and out to the garden.

I was too tired by then to remember to take her photo as she did it, but I took plenty of pictures of her, she is always helpful, and I will get many chances.

I can no longer list how Maria supports me and my work and our beautiful farm, even while she makes her beautiful art.

Sometimes, I can’t believe she is real.

I couldn’t possibly have done this so quickly or well without a circle of good people around to help. I felt I was in the center of a process of angels dancing around me.

And I shouldn’t forget my good friend Sue Silverstein.

This was a beautiful way to end a sad week and refreshed and energized me. And gives me hope.

After the killings, Sue texted me, saying, “you keep doing good. It is the only weapon we have.” That thought sustained me all week and inspired me.

I love the thought of the Memory Care residents – who love flowers as much or more as I do – planting the seeds we gave them, watering them, and watching them grow.

The usual nasties buzzed around social media, but they shrank to invisibility. They were the distractions Merton was warning about. They vanished, inside of my mind and out.

The garden beds will matter.

They will give them a reason to come outdoors and end up with these flowers in their rooms, flowers they grew, from seems to color, and brightening their lives.

Sue was right, and I am reminded there is an army of good people all around me, waiting to help.

Thanks to all of you. You are the answer.

When there are no words, you are the only weapon we have. You are the only weapon we need.


  1. Thank you Jon for continuing to spread uplifting news through your blog! I have been reading for 13 years now and I appreciate all the good work that you and Maria do!

  2. This IS the Movement the world needs, Jon! Love applied to purpose and intent, and looking for ways to spread it around is how we change the world! We can all act locally and believe in our hearts that we affect globally – that is how the energy of Love works!! Thank you, as always, for your inspiration!

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