The Power of Community, Planting Seeds of Change

Last week I was in Sarasota near Siesta Key beach and took a walk through a neighborhood I had never been in before.

I was talking to my mother on the phone as I walked, so I wasn’t really paying attention to where I was going.  Next thing I knew was standing in front of a beautiful prayer garden.  I told my mother I had to go so I could check it out and have a little chat with Helanna while I was there. 

I felt so much peace as I stood there looking around at how beautiful this place was. It was full of mature trees, plants, birds, and butterflies. I laughed to myself as I thought about how it felt like I had stepped into a Disney Movie.   

After I spent some time looking around and taking pictures I sat on a wooden bench in the shade and talked to Helanna for a while.  At the end of our chat I asked her how I could reach more families because no matter what I do, it never feels like enough. People are dying, families are being devastated, and it seems impossible to make meaningful change.

Then I sat silently with my eyes closed and listened, not with my ears and mind but with my heart.

This is what came to me:

In the center of the prayer garden, there was a memorial with a large black and gold metal plaque dedicating the sanctuary in memory of their beloved family member who passed away in 1968. Their simple act of starting the garden was a catalyst for positive change, as more names and donations were added to contribute to its growth.

We, as individuals, often feel inadequate when trying to make a difference in a seemingly impossible situation like changing the stigma about substance use disorder and preventing overdoses. Yet, the prayer garden served as a powerful reminder that even the smallest actions can create a ripple effect, and together, we can create remarkable change.

It’s easy to underestimate the impact of our actions, but just like this family, we too can plant the seeds of change and invite others to collaborate in our efforts. We don’t have to bear the burden alone; it’s about creating connection, community, and support.

In the face of this daunting challenge, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. The prayer garden brought me back to what I already knew: while the situation may seem insurmountable, we can make a difference by starting with one small step. It’s about realizing that our contribution matters and that each effort, no matter how “small”, brings us closer to change. This includes the steps we take to learn how to support our struggling loved ones.

There’s immense power in collaborating and connecting with like-minded people who share our passions and goals. By joining forces with others who are already doing similar work in the world or on themselves, we can uplift and support one another, amplifying our reach and effectiveness.  

Just like the families who came together to create this incredible prayer garden, we too can create understanding and compassion in our communities through education and open conversations.  We can challenge harmful belief systems and promote empathy, ultimately helping more families.

We all have the power to create change, and when we allow others to join in, our efforts can grow beyond what we could ever imagine. No matter what we’re facing, we don’t have to go through it alone.

Together, we can create more prayer gardens of change, where love, support, understanding and change blossom freely.