Earlier this Summer, CD hosted a team of highschool graduates from Ontario for a serving trip in downtown Montreal. The team visited many places around the city, cooking for homeless shelters, cleaning up alleys, participating in prayer walks, and gardening. It’s easy to believe that such simple things as planting flowers in the middle of a loud, bustling metropolis can remain unnoticed.
But you’d be wrong.
One sunny day, the team brought gardening tools and new plants to Cabot Square. The Square, historically, has been used as a casual community space for Inuit and First Nations peoples to gather when they would visit. This was often a due to having sick family members at the old Children’s Hospital and the distance from home could leave them physically and economically stranded, with few other places to go. On one side of the Square sits the Roundhouse Cafe, an Indigenous-run business. It serves the mixed population of visitors, residents and commuters, coming up from the metro station or local neighbourhoods.
For several pleasant hours, the young team quietly arranged flowers and plants to frame the boxes, taking care to maintain a respectful presence in the Square. In the end, they’d planted many colourful flowers, and various vegetables, all to draw attention to the Cafe’s hospitable atmosphere. And yet, the streets and foot traffic continued to swell around them, loud and hurried.
The team put the tools away, and were crossing the square in a cluster to leave when a smiling man from the square stopped them. He gestured to the group and asked,
“Was it these teenagers that beautified the cafe’s planters?”
“Yes,” replied a leader.
Pure joy and gratitude spread across his face.
“Thank you very much.” He said simply, then turned back to enjoy the floral sight of the Cafe. The group smiled and thanked him in return, waving as they passed to the metro.
Only a momentary conversation, only an unglamourous act of planting new life in the dirt. However, those little garden boxes would go on to mean more.
They provide a summer-long sight of joy for visitors of the Roundhouse Cafe.
They create a moment of peace and loveliness on a breathless, busy day.
They inspire an opportunity for connection between individuals who would otherwise be strangers.
They represent the life-giving nature of the Good News, exposing greater beauty out of a person’s life.
And this is why they planted flowers in Cabot Square.