Thursday, October 1, 2009

More Gardening with God

Late post today. I got up extra early to hit the road for Gainesville and a morning meeting; I interviewed some more cool Methodist gardeners. The lead picture was taken about 45 minutes north of Tampa. It was the first cool morning of the fall and this thin layer of mist clung to the ground as I looked toward the east. So I pulled off the highway and took a few photographs.

My last Methodist news story covered several churches (Orlando and Miami) who are reaching their neighbors via large community gardens. The projects have been designed to feed the hungry, to recalibrate a core sense of mission, and to make better use of unsightly land going to waste.

Today's church garden, however, is blooming in one small corner of a beautifully developed 66 acre campus. The congregation (Trinity UMC) is already dynamic and mission oriented, so the project emerged from a completely different place.

One man, a Geography professor at the University of Florida, developed a small plot in order to teach grade-school children about creation. He quickly discovered that the children loved to get their hands dirty and that they are fascinated with the contrast between shrink-wrapped produce on grocery-store shelves and gently pulling a ripe tomato from the vine.

The project, actively encouraged by the mission and outreach ministry staff liaison, has grown some over two years. But is still much smaller - not so much smaller in scope as smaller physically and in terms of raw numbers. This emphasis is more of a microcosmic representation of what is possible, and it's about the lessons resident in understanding some basic dirt-based truths - such as the relationship between toil and production, nutrition and spiritual insight, God's ongoing impetus and our commitment to participate in creation... that kind of thing.

What interests me is the way God is nurturing - or cultivating - inner truth in thoughtful people via simple things such as planting and weeding and harvesting and sharing...

I have a pile of work to do with what's left of today, so I'll simply leave this post with a picture of the happy gardeners.

Love and blessings... and please pass this blog around to your friends who might be open to conversation about eternal truths - DEREK

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