I love cactus! In some ways these are the easiest plants to take care of – forget to water them and they still live! Leave them out in the hot sun – they survive and even thrive! And every so often, they produce the most exquisite of flowers. So, amidst the thorns and 'pricklies', there is this storehouse of beauty just waiting to spring forth.
Sometimes, people are like that, some communities are like that. Some folks may say, ‘that place is tough.’ Or others will comment, ‘watch out in that community – you could get hurt.” And yet, in what, at least from what some say, is a tough and rumble community, you will find some of the most exquisite of people shining forth in all their beauty! In Oak Grove, nestled in Greenville, SC, we found a number of those flowers blooming. From the residents who have taken it upon themselves to stand up for their community to the staff who came to help beautify and pour themselves into this community, this truly is a great community, despite what is said at times.
Let me introduce you to a few of those who grace this place. One lady, who struggles with cancer, her ‘prickly,’ refuses to let that get her down. She is enthusiastic and loves people. Another community member, who has lived in this community since before the roads were paved, loves it here despite a few thorns. She notes that God has given her the gift of a beautiful voice to sing and worship, so, ‘I am going to use it!” Having lived a full life, having reached the ‘winter’ season of life where there is ‘snow on the top’ and still be joyful is simply put, the grace of God on display! Oh, but we need more of that in our world!
Meet a single mom with her daughters. If that is all you know, you already know life has been a bit ‘prickly’ for her. Work, paying bills, raising kids, and staying above water is a momentous task for any single parent. Yet sometimes you come alongside one of those blooming flowers and your heart is enlarged. This mom was such a person. Knowing her neighbors, knowing what their needs were and being a great asset to the Impact Cares team while we were there, that’s just who she is. Seeing this and wanting to encourage her, David, one of the Impact Cares team members complimented her on her caring attitude and willingness to help. All she said was, “I don’t know how not to care.”
Sometimes, the ‘pricklies’ are on display! One resident, not having much good to say about the neighbors and was a bit on the nosy side. This resident knew everyone, every car, every kid that walked the street. Along with that, she knew everything that was ‘wrong’ with all of those too. Well, she had been recommended to receive some help herself. So, the Impact Cares team built her some short steps along with some grab bars, so she was able to navigate more easily getting in and out of her home. It is amazing what a difference caring, and action can have on a person. After finishing the improvement, and herself having a change of attitude she said to the team, “I don't know what I would've done if Impact Cares had not shown up.” There is a picture of a beautiful flower blooming, even though it may seem to come from the midst of the thorns.
Life seems to be like that doesn’t it? In life, sometimes the thorns and 'pricklies' are within, and sometimes we find them outside of ourselves. Oak Grove displayed both. From single parents taking care of kids and parents, to disabled folks living with the result of being ‘pricked’ by the vagaries of life and others, Oak Grove was a place blooming with folks who were united, blessedly colorblind, and willing to step outside of themselves to lend a helping hand.