My daughter Sophia is a collector of things. Especially of broken things. Especially broken things that other people may have discarded as trash that she still sees as beautiful. The first time I noticed how strong this desire was for her was when we replaced the door knobs in our new home a few years ago. Sophia asked if she could keep all of the old door knobs because they were so pretty and shiny. I agreed hesitantly to let her keep one.
After Christmas as I was cleaning up the house and trying to get things ready for the new year. I decided that our poinsettia had seen better days and set it out on the back deck. It was still surviving a couple of months later but hardly thriving. Sophia swooped in and begged to plant it in the yard. We agreed to let her have a corner where she could plant the things she would like.
When my husband went out to plant this year’s landscaping he decided that last year’s snapdragons had overgrown the space they were in. They were competing for sunshine and soil with the large hydrangea right beside them. And so he decided to pull out the remaining snapdragons for the good of the whole bed. Sophia was devastated that he would throw away live, though scruffy-looking, flowers, and so she moved them to the back of the yard into her own little garden. The failing flower from this year’s annuals also got a prize spot. And so Sophia’s Refugee Garden was born.
To add to the beauty of the Refugee Garden Sophia took the rocks that we had painted a couple of years ago with my mom and scattered them throughout her garden. It was a perfect tribute, really. An art project that she did with her grandma, the original keeper of things, to make more beautiful a garden made of rescued things. The truly beautiful part of it all is that both my mom and my oldest daughter do this in life. They rescue things. They see beauty that others don’t see. They see potential in things that haven’t quite hit their stride. They polish things that once shone brightly but have long since sat tarnished. This gift has created more beauty in the world. It also makes my mom dangerous at Garage Sales.
When I see Sophia’s refugee garden I’m reminded of the importance of finding beauty in the things we may be tempted to cast off. To nurture the things that aren’t growing easily on their own. She teaches me a lot, my oldest daughter. We knew her name meant “Wisdom” when we chose it, we could not have predicted how accurate it would be. People like my mom and Sophia change the world, one failing flower at a time.