For much of the last century, religious institutions have missed–or ignored–our responsibility as stewards of the creation and to the Creator. However, people of faith have long relished the grimy pleasures of gardening. The process of nurturing life brings contentment and a sense of wholeness in the accomplishment. We instinctively understand that we were designed to be gentle gardeners. We just haven’t realized the entire planet is our garden.
~Michael Abbate, Gardening Eden: How Creation Care Will Change Your Faith, Your Life, and our World
A couple of weeks ago, I was blessed to attend a regional conference sponsored by RAFI (http://rafiusa.org/come-to-the-table/) on farming, food, and faith. Since that time, I have been pondering my calling as a front yard farmer and “ecovangelist” and renewing my connection with creation as Spring comes to Growing Grace Farm.
With Winter bringing disappointment, rain, and home projects, my time and energy had moved away from gardening and farming, and I can tell I’ve been feeling it in my spirit. I don’t know about you, but there is something life-giving that grows within me when I tend to the earth–even if it’s only within the context of a small yard farm. It is bigger than me and compels me to want to be a better person.
Last night as my daughter and I watched the movie Rent, I caught hold of a line that planted itself inside of me. One character eloquently noted, “The opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation.” Because I love the art of language, I didn’t let that one pass by–I stopped the movie and contemplated it for a moment. When I thought about it, I realized he was right. War brings with it destruction. When we see photos of war-torn countries, we witness people, the environment, and communities devastated and lacking in resources, wanting for life.
Perhaps that is why gardening and farming have become so critical to my being. They are the means by which I can put my faith into action and create–create a healthy and sustainable environment, create connections with God that nurture and heal.
My prayer is that in some way, each one of us will become “gentle gardeners,” engaging in creation not only for the sake of the Earth but also for the wellbeing of our faith.