A Community Garden

“Therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace that we are allowed to live in community with Christian bretheren.”

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

On Saturday we all knelt, thankful in the dirt. I dug holes with a hand trowel as Lilly and Isaac followed behind me, dropping cabbage tricots into the ground. Lilly’s dark brown skin glistened in the sun; the African-American transplant from the Napa Valley offered small talk to my son, a six-year old who has known little of this earth save for Arkansas. Isaac told her we were planting this garden for the community, that Christians serve that way. Lilly smiled. “I know,” she said.

Faith is simple to Isaac.

I didn’t know Lilly from Eve, but she seemed like a good woman. She had the appearance of a hard worker, a hard life liver. Her history may have been as straight as an Arkansas row or as crooked as a California vine. I’m not sure. But in her small-talk I could hear hard-won desperation—the desire to be called good.

The two worked like brother and sister—one world-wise and weather beaten, the other naive and unworn. From time to time they giggled, but mostly they just dirtied their hands together. I watched them, both unsure exactly how deep to plant, how much soil was needed to cover the roots, whether or not to give a drink to freshly planted cabbage. We were all unskilled laborers, but laborers nonetheless.

Isaac knelt, placing a runt plant into a freshly dug hole. A leaf snapped as he covered the root-ball with burnt-brown earth. “Oh no, Daddy,” he said, paralyzed as if wondering whether he had stolen life from the runt. “It’s okay,” I said, pinching the leaf at the base of the stem. “Things heal.”

Lilly paused, mustering up deliberation. And with the soul of a Mississippi choir woman, she slowly lulled, “m-hmm.”

The Farm…Community, Reflections and the Church from Cobblestone Project on Vimeo.

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7 Responses to A Community Garden

  1. watched this at the runamuck today and fell in love with the back of your little boy’s head. makes me want to rent some land down the street and invite all of bethlehem to garden.

    • sethhaines says:

      DO IT!

      There is something honest about working together for others. Truth is, we won’t eat a leaf off of that land but it still feeds us in so many ways.

      Always glad with Dear Abby stops by.

  2. Pingback: There & Back Again: Time to Get our Fingers Dirty | Ann Kroeker. Writer.

  3. Ann Kroeker says:

    Love this so much I highlighted it today at my blog for Charity Singleton’s TheHighCalling.com community writing project. She calls it “There & Back Again,” encouraging people to get out into the THC community to mingle, write about a subject that someone’s post inspires, publish and link all around.

    So….I did that. Thank you for inspiring me on so many levels. In my post, I focused on the family part, working together. I hope as they click over to this post they see the community aspect emphasized.

    Love your storytelling, Seth. Love what you did here weaving in Lilly, and “things heal.” It’s beautiful.

    • sethhaines says:

      Thanks, Ann. That’s high praise coming from you. I appreciate your work in this webbernet space more than you’ll know. Keep reminding us to live worthy of the High Calling.

  4. Seth — Stopping over from Ann Kroeker’s blog. This post is beautiful – poetic and earthy. Love that Isaac knows that Christians are supposed to “serve that way.” We are, aren’t we? I also love how you are showing your sons that we were made to work the dirt. We are far removed from the calling of Adam to tend the garden, in our cubicles and behind our monitors. You are teaching you children well.

    I saw on Ann’s blog that you might like to join us for There and Back Again sometime. The link up isn’t as important as the reaching out to others in the network. I think we have so much to teach each other and so much to learn. Here’s a link if you want to know more.


    • sethhaines says:

      Thanks so much for stopping in and sharing your words. It’s true, the cubicle seems to box us out of the way we were designed to be. It’s a shame, really. I wish I would have understood that earlier.

      I would love to participate in the There and Back Again. I’m going to try it out next week, I think. I love what the folks in the THC network are doing.

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