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From Sister Val...

Dear Friends,

Some of my favorite memories from childhood are playing in the backyard while my mom watered our garden on summer nights. My sister and I would run around the shed next to the garden, trying to hide from Mom. When we would come around the corner, she would douse us with the hose while we laughed and continued running in circles, waiting for the next spray of cool water.

2 S Val.tif

Sister Valerie Luckey, Director of Emmaus

When I was in kindergarten, Mom started working at the local garden center. I spent many evenings there while she worked, skipping across paths learning which plants were annuals and which were perennials, which flowers had the nicest smells, and which herbs were the tastiest. It felt magical, walking through rows of bright colors, wonderful scents, and the beauty of nature.

Sister Mary, too, loved the garden. Just before she died, she came into the office with a daffodil that had fallen off its stem. She found a small glass, added water, and revived the yellow bloom. Sister Mary delighted in it each morning for the next few days, grateful for its beauty.

Our intuition tells us, and now research does, too, that nature has healing power. There is forest bathing where we allow time with trees to calm our anxiety and plant-based diets that lower our blood pressure. Today our connection to nature is jeopardized, as forest fires spread and the climate crisis threatens our future.

All this makes me even more grateful that Emmaus Grove is part of Emmaus Ministries. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the Emmaus Grove garden volunteers––some who have been involved since its first days––have harvested more than 20,000 pounds of fresh produce to share with our guests over the past decade. I can still picture Jim, a frequent guest who has since died, biting into a whole, fresh cucumber at our soup kitchen last summer.

How wonderful the gift of nature we offer through the bounty of Emmaus Grove. In this issue of The Companion we look back on the history of the garden, the commitment of its founders and volunteers, and the joy of ripe fruit and soil-stained hands.

We pray during the Eucharistic liturgy, “Blessed are you, God of all Creation, through your goodness…we offer you: Fruit of the vine, work of human hands,” and so let us praise God for the wonder and goodness of creation, and come to love it more deeply. May we, like Sister Mary, be recklessly devoted to every single blossom.

In peace,

Sister Val

**To read the most recent issue of The Companion, head over to the About Emmaus page.

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