My article on the teen gardeners of Anathoth Community Garden just appeared in World Ark magazine of Heifer International. You can read the full article here.
The teens who arrived each Saturday morning had been charged with various minor offenses: shoplifting, drug possession, carrying a knife to school. Our work with them was part of Anathoth’s mission, which came from the book of Jeremiah: “plant gardens and eat what they produce … and seek the peace of the place to which you are sent.” I had no trouble teaching teens how to plant gardens and eat what they produced, but I struggled with the peacemaking part. My patience was stretched by youngsters like Mohammed, who enjoyed shocking himself on our electric deer fence; or the three boys who snuck off to the woods to smoke an illegal substance; or Bassie, the young man who played in a punk band (“it’s basically a wall of sound coming at you with offensive song titles”) and who told his mother before coming to work with us, “I don’t care if they’re curing cancer out there—I’m not working at Anathoth!” Read More
A new essay of mine is out in the April issue of The Sun magazine. Here’s an excerpt:
THE VIRGIN CRESTED THE HILL, and a man emerged from his doorway and gave a shout. Others rushed from their huts. Perched on a dais borne on the shoulders of four men dressed in leather sandals and white tunics, she descended the narrow dirt trail toward the Mexican village. Behind her a long procession unfurled over and down the hill. Musicians marched in front, playing wooden harps and guitars and child-sized violins that looked like they had been carved with a hatchet, which they had. A lone trumpeter announced the Virgin’s arrival, his notes bearing no particular relation to the melody.
During the four years I directed a church-supported community garden ministry we would often hold Eucharist in the garden on our Saturday workdays. I came to learn what was confirmed at Mepkin: that the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood doesn’t end at the communion table. It spreads outward into the streets and fields, the creeks and rivers, the gardens and mushroom buildings, the Thanksgiving feasts and the monks’ Spartan tables and back again to the lifted elements. Had we the “conviction of things not seen” we would recognize this seamless flow of nutrients both visible and invisible, profane and holy. And we would be changed.
– Monks, Mushrooms, and the Sacramental Nature of Everyday Eating, Faith & Leadership. Read full article