By Ryan Koch, Program Manager

I’m in the dining room at shelter with one of the newer residents. He is five.  He is navigating his cereal, and we are having a conversation. His favorite color is blue. And green. And pink and purple. He does like riding bikes. He does not like being a little brother.

His mom is nearby and she smiles at him. My neighbor gets a little serious. Then he says this: “Wuv you.”

“What, baby?” not sure what he is saying.
“Wuv you.”
“Oh. Oh. Yea—I love you too.”

In our hoop houses, under plastic, protected from the cold wind and the winter rain, young spinach and kale plants are thriving. Seeds germinate and plants grow whenever the conditions are right for growth. Growth is innate. Dark green leaves announce to the world, I am here, ready to perform the magic of turning sunlight into something nourishing. Here is a deep and timeless affirmation of life in weak winter sun.

And when children feel safe and cared for, they grow too. My young neighbor has been through a lot. He has seen a lot. It doesn’t all make sense to him. But now he and his mom are in a safe place and they are healing.

We humans are predisposed to growth and to love. We do this whenever something in us recognizes that the conditions are right. We catch ourselves in a safe place and we announce, each in our own way,

I am here.
I am growing.
I feel loved, even in a dark season.

Let it be so in all our lives today.