Chapter 1 – Sage and the 11 Gardens

Once upon a time to come, in the year 2050 . . .

Willow said to her great-grandmother, “Amma Sage, tell us a Flash!Back.”

Sage smiled through and through, always pleased to tell stories of the early days, especially to the youngest ones.  She patted the couch cushions on either side of her. Eight-year-old Willow and Reed, just turned six, settled in beside her.

“How far back do you want to go?” Sage asked.

“Tell us about when you first planted the Gardens of Global Unity,” said Reed.

Willow looked at her little brother and said, “She planted them all her life, silly.  Amma, tell us about when the Gardens of Global Unity first began.”

Ah, yes, I remember it well, said Sage.  She glanced at each of the children with that storytelling look in her eyes, leaned back with a little grin.  The children waited silently while she went into her memory banks. It always took a little minute, but they knew she would tell them a good one.

“Once upon a time,” said Sage, “I hitched ol’ Horse up to the little gypsy wagon that I called the Caravan of Creation.  Together we started down the Road to 2020 and Beyond. It was only September 2019, so when we got to the Gardens of Global Unity, they were still in the early stages of construction.  Everyone was getting ready for the Big Anniversary Year in 2020. People scurried around, building this and painting that. I decided to take the Grand Tour around all 11 Gardens before going to the campground.” 

Sage breathed in a long, slow breath, and listened with pleasure as the children breathed in, too.

I came to the Global Unity Quilt display at the entrance to the Garden of Unity. It didn’t have a quilt yet, of course. But right there in polka-dotted hand-lettering it said …” Sage paused.

Willow and Reed recited together, “We are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny.”

Saged smiled at them.  “It soothes my soul to know that a whole generation has grown up knowing that was true, and now their children can’t imagine it not being so.”

“How could people not know that?” asked Willow.  

“It’s easy to say that now, in 2050.  But back then the human family was just beginning to wake up to the new reality.  We really are one human family. We could see people in all parts of the globe on TV, and talk with them on video chat, but most people couldn’t yet see the whole picture.  Few seemed to believe that it was possible to make a world that works for all. The Gardens of Global Unity became a safe place where we could explore the amazing things that people — especially young people — were already doing.  It was like Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood — with a Land of Make Believe for the whole human family.”

Sage looked at her great-grandchildren.  “Do you know the Earth Charter quotes for all of the Gardens?” she asked.

“I think so,” said Willow.

“I still get stuck on a couple,” said Reed

“It’s a lot of big words for a six-year-old,” said Sage, “but each one has an important message for all of us.  Let’s go through them together. I can help with anything that doesn’t make sense.”

She leaned back, and went back into storytelling mode.  “So there we were, walking past the Garden of Unity when we came to …”

Reed finished her sentence, “the Garden of Interdependence.”

“That’s right. And can you guess what the sign in the display case said?

Willow chimed in, “Recognize that all beings are interdependent and every form of life has value regardless of its worth to human beings.

“What’s interdependent?” asked Reed.

“Everything is part of the same whole,” said Willow.

“And every part is just as important as any other,” added Sage.  “For example, you are one whole person. Which part is more important — your heart or your lungs?”

“Well, they’re both important,” said Reed, “because I need both of them to live.”  

“Exactly,” said Sage.  “It’s the same with people and plants and animals.  We are all part of a wonderful system that has taken billions of years to evolve.  Each of us is different, with our own job to do in the world.”

Sage paused, and waited to see if the children wanted to explore that a bit.  After a moment, she continued. “Which brings us to the Garden of Environment, where the sign at the entrance read …”

Willow said, “The protection of Earth’s vitality, diversity and beauty is a sacred trust.

“What is a sacred trust?”  asked Reed.

Sage answered, “Many people worship God as the Creator, and they want to please God by protecting all life on Earth, including the people.”  

“And the butterflies and giraffes,” said Reed.

“And the hummingbirds and whales,” added Willow.

Sage chuckled.  “So Horse and I kept going and soon we came to the Garden of Economic Justice. The sign in the case there said …”

Willow recited, “Our environmental, economic, political, social and spiritual challenges are interconnected and together we can forge inclusive solutions.”

“I don’t get that one at all,” said Reed.

“That’s a lot of ideas that all together say that everyone deserves a healthy world to live in and no one should be left without enough to take care of themselves and their families,” Sage told him.

“And we should all work together to be sure no one is left out,” added Willow.

Sage closed her eyes.  “Ah, here we come to the Garden of Health,” she said.

Willow said, “This is a hard one.” She closed her eyes and recited, “The resilience of the community of life and the well-being of humanity depend upon preserving a healthy biosphere with all its ecological systems, a rich variety of plants and animals, fertile soils, pure waters, and clean air.”  

Reed said, “I know about soil and water and air, but not those other big words.”

Sage said, “It just means we humans can’t be healthy unless everything else is healthy.”

Reed smiled.  “Because we’re all connected!”

They all laughed and sang together, “We are all connected!”

“And then Horse and I came to the Garden of Children and Youth,” said Sage, “where the Global Unity Quilt would one day say …”

“Provide all, especially children and youth, with educational opportunities that empower them to contribute actively to sustainable development,” said Willow.

Sage said, “This is one of my favorites.  Back in 2019 I was just watching what young people were doing for a world that works for all. I was collecting Seed Ideas of what was possible.  The Gardens gave me a place to share what I’d learned, and learn from the young people I met there.”

Willow asked, “Is that what they mean by life-long learning?”

“That’s right,” said Sage.  “We’re all learning, every day.  And each generation gets to draw on the Wisdom of the Ages and add to it.”

Reed slid down off the couch.  “That’s enough for today,” he said.  My brain is tired.”

Sage chuckled.  “It’s a lot, I know.  How about you, Willow?  Do you want to keep going?”

“Maybe we could skip to the Garden of Peace,” Willow said.

Sage closed her eyes.  “Giddyup, Horse. Let’s FastForward for now past the Garden of Women. We’ll go right by the Gardens of Human Rights … and Freedom … and Disarmament … and at last we come to the Garden of Peace, where the Global Unity Quilt-to-be says …”

Willow smiled and said, “Recognize that peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are a part.”

She added, “That’s my favorite.  It includes everything.”

“And aren’t we grateful to know that people everywhere are learning to create right relationships,” said Sage.  “We are all learning to be good relatives.”

Willow said, “That brings us back to the beginning.”

“What do you mean?” asked Sage.

“Right back where we started, at the Garden of Unity,” said Willow.  “We are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny.”

“You’re right! It’s a never-ending story,” chuckled Sage, “one that your children and their children will want to hear.  Thanks for telling it with me.”  

“Thank you for living it, Amma Sage,” said Willow.  “Mmm… Dinner smells good. Are you ready to eat?”

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