My grandpa Leo, my dad’s father, lived most of his life in what is now the tough part of the city of Saginaw. The neighborhood wasn’t always that way, though. I remember seeing photos of how it was when my dad was a child. It was the picture of middle America, with neatly mown lawns and well-tended hedges. Front porches were tidy and flower gardens adorned the side lawns. Grandpa’s house was no exception.
Things began to change dramatically sometime during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Saginaw went through what so many other cities did during those years, as suburbs expanded, small businesses moved away, and older neighborhoods began a steady decline, becoming mere shadows of their former selves. Suddenly, there were fewer and fewer well-kept homes. Gardens began to disappear, and the hedges were replaced with security fences and bars over windows.
But not Grandpa’s little white house on the corner. Each year, he tended his gardens from early spring until well into the fall. The explosion of vivid color began with the tulips in April and continued with vegetables of all kinds through September and October. The shrubs got their annual pruning, as did any of the flowering trees that needed a little cleaning up. We used to marvel at the lawn, which never looked as though it had been mowed, but rather as though it had just been trimmed with a comb and scissors. The walks were swept and both they and the driveway were always neatly edged.
Grandpa’s care extended beyond the grounds to include the tools used to care for them. There was a place for everything and everything was in its place, so to speak. Hand tools were neatly hung up and the power tools looked as though they had been washed and waxed. Grandpa was a good steward of his God-given talents, time and resources. He used his stewardship to transform what could have been just another dreary corner into an oasis of simple beauty.
The seventh commandment, which forms our focus for this month, is not just about not taking what does not belong to us. It is also about being good stewards (care-takers) of what we have been given by God, in whatever form that takes. Like any father and mother, Freddy Nyembwe and his wife Aimee wanted the best for themselves and their family. When the situation in their homeland of the Democratic Republic of the Congo changed dramatically and dangerously, they fled for their lives. With the assistance of Catholic Charities and Refugee Services, they have a safe home and are rebuilding their lives. They still pray for a time when their family can be reunited and whole. With the assistance of many, Freddy and Aimee are trying to be good stewards of gifts God has given to them.
Responsible stewardship also extends to other gifts like our faith and the gift of our time. Karla Palmer and Sr. Ann Shields have some wonderful insights to share, encouraging all of us to become good stewards of God’s gifts in our lives.
The seventh commandment reminds us that what seems to be ours is truly God’s, and what is God’s is meant to be cared for and shared for the good of all. And so our journey in FAITH continues.
Father Dwight Ezop is editor of FAITH Magazine and pastor of St. John the Evangelist in Fenton. Email: editor@FAITHpub.com.