My dad is black and my mom is white. I often feel I don’t fit in either faith community.

ChristThough I have never visited there, I have seen wonderful pictures and videos of Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny in France. This great artist of the Impressionist school was fascinated by color and light. Tragically, as he aged, he began to lose his eyesight. He worked frantically to record on canvas his last views of the flowers he so loved. Because of the difficulty of seeing flowers in their individual detail, Monet had his garden planted with masses of color in what he called his “paintbox” gardens.

One section was planted with hundreds of vivid red flowers, the next brilliant yellows, the next vibrant oranges and so on. In this way he continued to capture the essence and beauty of his garden, though his sight became more and more diminished.

One spring several years ago I laid out one of my gardens after the fashion of Monet’s “paintbox” garden. I have been building this perennial bed, one color of flower in each section, as a work in progress. As the growing season advances, my intent becomes evident as the red flowers all bloom in their proper bed, the oranges in theirs, the yellows in theirs, etc.

In the freshness of the summer morning I make my daily round to discover what has been happening in the garden while I was asleep. One morning I was startled to find a little purple flower blooming in the orange garden. Gardeners call these unexpected plants, “volunteers.”  A purist would have quickly pulled out the intruder and thrown it in the compost bin, but I developed a special fondness for the courage and vivacity of this little, “stranger in a strange land.”

All summer long I watered the tiny purple flower and nurtured its growth. Its beauty was especially evident against the backdrop of the orange marigolds. As I do my fall cleanup of the garden, I foster a secret hope that my small friend has dropped seeds and will visit me next year.

Jesus loved the outcast, the stranger, the person “on the fringe” because Jesus yearned for the day we would all be one. Not one color, but one love. Whether you are the “volunteer” in the black community or the “volunteer” in the white community, you are especially loved by our Lord Jesus. You call us all up higher. You, by your very presence, issue the invitation of Jesus for all to experience the unity and love of his Father’s Kingdom. Remember God’s words through the prophet Isaiah 56:7 “For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.”

God lovingly selected for you exactly the two parents that you have. God has enriched your life by giving you two communities with which to rejoice and worship. Bloom where you are planted for the glory of the Lord and, please, scatter seed for future growth.

(Christ is a consultant in ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The married mother of four young adult children, she gives talks and workshops, leads retreats and is a spiritual director. Christ self-publishes materials for parishes, and is the author of “Journeying with Mark,” “Journeying with Luke” and “Journeying with Matthew.” Published by Paulist Press, the books are intended to be used by families in the car on the way to Mass.)

Questions for Christ may be sent to
her at Catholic Herald Parenting, P.O.
Box 070913, Milwaukee, 53207-0913 or
by email: