Company. Campaign. Champagne. Champion. Companion. Familiar words that sound so alike because they all spring from the same medieval French and Latin roots. “Com” = “with” and “Pan” = “bread.” “Camp” (champ) = “open country or field.” These words are cousins in etymology and function. To be a companion is literally to share bread with someone. To share bread with someone is to keep their good company. To keep their good company is to be their champion. And to be their champion is to be their defender, to walk among them and eat with them.
For every moment I paid attention, I wonder how many moments I missed — not just with the children around me, but also with the adults I interact with who might have needed an encouraging word or simply a friend who would listen. Maybe being a hero doesn’t require superhuman abilities, but simply the willingness to pause and pay attention and listen.
Artists and gardeners aren't the only ones who should be creating or coaxing life. I've started six urban gardens in three different cities and I can't stress how essential it is to co-create with those whom you want to build bonds. It is incarnational and it is transformational. It works across languages and ages. Three sunflower seeds can be enough. A tomato plant is even better. A public art project is outstanding.
There, floating with these beautiful newfound sisters in the cool, emerald green water of the Frio River, amongst the tiny flickering fish and the long blades of grass, I felt my heart settle into the deep quiet. I didn’t have an ongoing grocery list running through my mind. I wasn’t worried about the kids and whether or not my husband had remembered the sunscreen. I did not even have to fight the insecurities that normally gnaw at me about my body in a swimsuit. No, for the first time in a great long while, I let go.
I have learned that on my own, in my response to the call of creation and the Creator, I am finite. I understand a few small truths and can reach only so far alone. I cannot teach myself all that I need to know and understand. When I find myself pushing the constraints of this finitude, I need the gifts of others to pull me through the fog into the next clearing. I will not reach my destination — nor even understand it — without them. I would like to. I long for independence and self-actualization. I want to do things on my own. But the fact is, I lack much.