Peace – It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be midst those things and still be calm in your heart and a wear a smiling face!
When I started my day today, I did not know that I will literally be living the above statement.
I got an invitation from a friend Terry Conover to be at the Fort Lauderdale Peace Garden event which included guided meditation, a peace walk, art, paint and gardening and a vegan brunch made from the freshly picked vegetables from the garden. The Fort Lauderdale Peace Garden is a Community Service Project centered around the concepts of Peace, Sustainability and Community. It is a series of small gardens started by Michael Madfis which has varied vegetables like lettuce, onion, parsley, cilantro, papaya, hibiscus, beet etc.
When I got this invite, I had to be there to experience this whole new phenomenon.
I reached the destination and what I saw I liked that immediately. There was a small white tent put up beside the garden amidst a lot of greens. There was a wooden bench in the side with all the paints and brushes. It reminded me of a country side farm and had a rustic feel to it! The farm had a lot of vegetables and fruits and all this grown in a small space between two communities.
The event started by guided meditation by Terry at 8.00 am. At that time it was just the two of us. I always thought meditation is fighting back all your thoughts and let your mind be blank, and that is a very difficult job. Your mind has so many things going on that it becomes impossible to park everything aside. But Terry today enlightened me and said, “While meditating acknowledge your thoughts. If your knee is hurting acknowledge the pain. Hear the birds chirping, the sound of the moving cars, the train humping in the background. Take deep breaths and concentrate in between your eyes or on your heart and just listen.”
The meditation was followed by cleaning up the garden and weeding. I realized in the process that I am terrible at using the gardening tools and hence thought of doing something without the tools. So I cleaned the sampling jars (don’t know what exactly they are called).
We were just done with the cleaning when we were joined with another volunteer Victor Jimenez. Victor is a Peace activist and he will be there for anything that is related to peace 🙂
After having one more person on our team, we ventured towards the fun part of the morning – art and painting. We wanted to do a big board for the farm. We walked a little to another farm to collect the wooden planks for the board. The planks were heavy and infested with ants. Terry and Victor cleaned the planks and carried them to our farm while I was busy supervising them 😉
We put 3 planks together and started the painting. We were joined by our Chef for the day Laura Cherington and our team grew even more. This was the most entertaining part and it was liberating to be a child again. We did 2 boards with words ‘Peace’ and ‘Fun’. And a huge board saying ‘Fort Lauderdale Peace Garden’.
The painting was followed by some great food cooked by Master Chef Laura prepared from freshly picked vegetables from the garden. I always thought food in America is so bland with no taste at all. Also I have never liked salads. I like my meat and only greens aren’t very tempting for me. All of these opinions/beliefs of mine were shattered today after having some exotic salads made by Laura. We had raw papaya salad prepared with tomato peanuts, scotch bonnet peppers, garlic, coconut sugar and oil, fresh lime and Bragg’s amino. We also had a Kale and Chard Crunch salad prepared with sorrel, beet greens, chard, arugula, purple hibiscus, Hungarian peppers, carrots, pepitas, raisins, balasmic vinigrette and moong sprouts. To accompany these dishes, we had banana and raisin mix by Terry, some awesome brownies by Joei and a raw mango drink (prepared with boiled raw mango pulp, jaggery, cardamon and a tinge of black pepper) by me. The brunch was yummilicious! It was like a flavour volcano in the mouth. I remembered food back in India which has a gamut of tastes and just tantalizes your taste buds! 🙂
After a hearty brunch we packed up and cleaned with a fresh mind and a morning well spent! It was a day filled with service, fun, gratitude and of course adventure! 🙂