Give & Take: The Garden Within

The Seeds of Gratitude by Sharon Davson (oil on canvas)

On Sunday 20th October 2019 I was proud to deliver this following speech at the District 69 Area 9 Toastmasters Conference:

Friends share all manner of things.  And sometimes, the effects of what we give & take reverberate in amazing ways.  Has your world ever been rocked by a fabulous friend?  Mine was recently.  It involves a picture, a poem and some children in India.  Ladies and Gentlemen, you are all someone’s fabulous friend, even if you don’t realise it.

My friend Sharon Davson is a spiritual artist, whereas I write Science Rhymes for children.  Sharon is very religious, whereas I am not.  I respond best to fact and evidence, whereas Sharon gives prayer and gratitude.  I tell her off for not reading her emails whereas she empowers me to follow my dreams.  We both agree … to disagree … sometimes!

Of course, we have things in common as well: similar age, backgrounds in teaching, and we’re both passionate about creativity.  And since neither of us have children, our pictures and poetry have become our progeny.  And we want them to leave home and do good in the world.  Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t – depending on how you look at it.  So would you consider my poem The Garden Within is a success or a calamity?  Here are three facts to help you decide.

Number One: The poem The Garden Within was inspired by Sharon Davson’s painting of a koala sharing a variety of seeds with other creatures, amidst a big blue sky and rocky foreground of flowers.  Titled The Seeds of Gratitude, this oil painting is one of Davson’s treasured successes.  It’s housed in the Hikaru Museum in Takayama, Japan and has strong ties with the Sukyo Mahikari faith.  You can see it on the Science Rhymes website with the poem, The Garden Within, which I wrote especially for Sharon.  It goes like this:

There is a garden in my heart,
where beauty grows in fits and starts.
Where smiles are petals from the flowers,
bestowed by others from their bowers.

Nutritious hope reaps seeds to feed
my spirit for its every need.
With gratitude I’ll reach my goal
and touch the island of my soul.

Fact Two was a complete surprise: in 2018, I received an email from a school teacher in India revealing that, since 2015, this poem has been recited by children there, because it’s published in the official government’s school textbook Our World Through English Class 8, in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana.  When sharing this news with writing friends, they say “What? They published your poem without asking your permission? That’s not allowed.  What a calamity! … No royalties for you then”.  I’m not concerned about the royalties, I’m honoured my poem has been chosen. But I really want them to give me a physical copy of this book to cherish.  I’ve sent requests, but as yet, no reply, no book and yes I am disappointed!  But …

Fact Three: Discovering all the YouTube videos of students reciting and singing the words to The Garden Within has overwhelmed me, but I remember I wrote this poem in Sharon’s voice. It was my gift to a Fabulous Friend. And now, this little poem has been embraced by people who measure richness, like Sharon, with prayer and gratitude.

Love and friendship are filled with give & take.  And now I’ve befriended those children on YouTube, they have shown ME  With gratitude, I’ll reach my goal, to touch the island of my soul.

May you share this sentiment with your Fabulous Friends too.