This weekend our parish will plant the vegetables in our Garden of Eatin’ – a Grow to Give Garden that will feed our neighbors in need. As we prepare for the day, I am overwhelmed with emotion – pride, satisfaction, joy, and hope. A garden to feed others may seem simple enough, but this project has been a bit of a microcosm of what our parish is facing in general. We are a tough parish that has survived some hard times. The tenor of our parish has been transformed in the last couple of years into a place of hopefulness and joy, but our history has not left us unscarred. Out of our history, and perhaps with a little human nature sprinkled in, change has become something to dread rather than to eagerly anticipate. Of course every church, and probably every individual, does not actually like change, but I believe our tenacious will to survive has resulted in a deeper desire to control, and therefore a fear of change.
From that perspective then, you can see why I am so excited about this garden. This garden represents the best and the worst of us. At our worst, we worry about using our property in an alternative and perhaps detrimental way. If there is to be change, we want to make sure every single detail has been considered by every single person. We fear the long-term impact of taking on a project that will need long-term care. But at our best, we see the wealth of our eleven acres and want to share that wealth in a new way. We see neighbors who need food that we can grow. We know we will get to know each other a lot better with dirty hands and sweaty brow than we might in our Sunday best. And we dream that our labor might be a tangible witness to the power of God’s love in our community.
So for me, digging into that dirt, and planting those seeds and seedlings this weekend, is a proclamation that we will be the best version of ourselves. We will take the uncertain road, we will submit to change, and we will open our hands to our God who will use those hands for good. A garden may not seem like a big deal to others, but to me, this garden is a bold statement about who we have been, who we are, and who we want to be.