A local research farm sponsored a short community tour.
The farm was a mention on the radar here and there, but I’d never paid it any mind. As farms go it’s pretty small, under two acres, smack in the city across from a shopping mall. “Research farm” sounded like locked greenhouses with murky windows and hydroponic leafage under fluorescent lights with dubious chemical drums standing around and everything wrapped in loose plastic. Still, sometimes it’s good to peek out and go see the world.
Well. What a place. Lush, thriving, groomed, neatly arranged in pie order. A radiant joyful student guide greeted us, and to start off invited us to help ourselves to the Little Free Library of plant seeds to take home (people can bring and donate seeds too). The group went off for the tour. But I just stood there under the sky gazing around at the fields. It did the heart good. Here is the kale row (2 varieties), collards, beans, and pumpkin vines.
I marveled over the selection of seeds, picked out a little packet of heirloom beets for next year, and texted Captain Wing about the farm. He decided to go donate his own stock of collected seeds to their library, and he’s taking his family there tomorrow to see it for themselves. I want to go back this week. The team needs extra hands for the harvest. Maybe there are tasks where I can help.
In other news, the Baptist church up the street had their midweek evening service on Wednesday, and I headed over to listen. It was a wrap up of Paul’s second epistle to Timothy. Even in my Giant Print Bible, that’s only 5 pages. Apparently the church has spent almost a year (48 midweeks, 48 hours of sermons) mining through those 4 chapters. Each sermon unpacks and opens out and clarifies one single verse, putting it all in linguistic and historical and spiritual context and then applying it to everyday life. Then after the service over coffee and homemade goodies, they have a lively followup discussion about the Bible text. These Baptists are the closest I’ll get to life at a Yeshiva.
Concluding the series, this sermon described Paul facing imminent death. What was on his mind in his final days? In these verses, he showed five qualities: 1. friendship, 2. forgiveness, 3. focus on ministry, 4. value for learning (he asks Timothy to bring him his parchments, for some extra study time), and 5. caring for the spiritual welfare of other people. Paul had always wanted to be a prestigious prosperous Pharisee. Instead he’s in prison facing death, able to do not much but write letters. God had another plan for his life dream. God’s plan meant disaster for Paul at the time, but his account of travels and trials also left us with much of the New Testament that we read today.
Applying that to our daily lives, the sermon question was, “What did you want to be when you grew up, that you aren’t now? Let’s see how the detours in our lives can reveal God’s plan.” The fun part was that when called upon, the congregation members admitted that they’d spent their lives doing exactly what they dreamed of doing! Fortunately, I happened to be there as a useful sabot in the machine: “I always wanted to marry my husband at age 18 and have six children of our own and six adopted, and have a big farm with alpacas.” Pastor said “Well that’s fine, Miss Mary. You are right on course. Well, except for the age 18 part.” That was a funny and cheering thought. The point was, no matter how our lives end up, when we contemplate our own end we can still benefit from Paul’s perspective and his five priorities.
Downstairs one of our hostesses served up her homemade apple cake with whipped cream and smiles for all. One member brought us back some North Dakota specialty chocolate-dipped potato chips. They were a real hit. Others brought mixed nuts and chips and other snacks. A good intuition (my guardian angel? maybe) ordered me to “Sit right there at the women’s table and listen to everyone around you. There are stories right here that will make a profound impression.” It was true. Just in that one chair, tuning in to everyone else and their threads of stories weaving around, it was a revelation to hear how much wisdom and courage and faith was witnessed by these close families. There were hard times in that gathering, and it was all buoyed up by people swapping support. They all managed kind words and some humor, and made sure that everybody got enough cake with cream on top, with wrapped goodies to take home.
That was food for thought, walking home in the early fall dark with Jupiter or is it Neptune afoot and following on the rise in the southeast sky.