That’s what the one voice said to the other that first year after I was built. All my beds were made and placed in the clearing, just to the south of the place where people lie planted in the ground. I wasn’t quite sure what this deer was then. In the middle of that first summer, I met them one evening. The sun was hanging low and the soil was starting to cool. I could feel the various lives I was embracing, slow, breath deeply, as they prepared for slumber. Always comforting to know I can hold these precious beings as they grow into the community we will be.
So, there I was and I felt sniffing, and hooves: that’s what I think they’re called? They were clicking and clacking at the wooden walls of my beds. They wanted in and up, I think they want to eat the precious growth – thankfully the fences were high and well built: Jakob saw to that. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am understanding that these deer creatures need to eat and live, love and breath: just hopefully not with those I tenderly help mature until their purpose is realised. The fences held and the green grew in that first heat-filled season.
“Yes, Reverend Meadow?”
“When they come, the family is going to look different than most of us – do you think you will be okay with that?
“I think I will, Reverend. Reminds me the first time the Ukrainians and we Mennonites met after the fire in the town I was born in. We didn’t mix, that’s the term we used then. But necessity forced us together. Food smells were different, and clothes sure were too. I remember, when we finally started talking about rebuilding the town, it seemed the differences we used to focus on were … what’s the word …
“Yeah – they meant so much when we were keeping ourselves apart, but when we needed each other, they sort of melted …”
I think Jakob is a prophet – if I understand your word. He says things about the tilling and turning of the soil, knows the pests to help and the bugs to keep away so I can help us grow: usually what he says, sort of happens. He did that too when you welcomed that family from far away. Refuges? Refugees? They sound the same – think they really mean the same?
The stone church people welcomed them. Even though they were all hurting and wondering about their own stuff, they helped those from away get from wherever they were from to here: I call them the invited. Jakob liked the idea Reverend Meadow had – about building me and inviting the area.
Not sure what that means, but I know after the first year, the stone church people doubled my beds. Right now, things are sleeping – you call it fallow – because it’s cold. But the sun’s getting higher and the big feathered flock is already cawing and cackling as they come from their away place. And I can smell the new beds being added. It seems growing me has grown them. As they talked with the invited, the stone church people started talking to one another more. In those conversation, one name went from whisper to … admiration? Reverence?
“Jesus: he was like a gardener”
“What do you mean Reverend Meadow?”
“Like these beds, he saw each place filled with people who were different and often kept apart from each other. But when they had a reason to help each other, support each other, they were able to do things, alone they couldn’t”
“So, he made people the same?”
“Not quite – I think he made space to accept everyone for what they were, what they believed and didn’t see differences as bad. What he did was connect each one to another so they could help grow the garden well. Like when you know that the lady bugs help with some of the pests, that you need ants to add nutrients deep down and how to watch for the potato beetles, he was able to help identify how each person contributed to their purpose.”
“What was their purpose?”
“Good question: let’s keep that one for the next Digging Faith discussion: for now, let’s just use the word community …”
I’m still waiting for that next discussion. What I’ve seen – since then – is that the stone church people come early, discuss Jesus and then welcome others to the beds. Usually, after everyone gathers, digs and waters, plucks and prunes, the discussions don’t include their faith talking. They simply welcome those they invited and share – joyfully. In the mix, I grow as the sun shines and sleep as she wanes. This will be the third year … and I wonder how many more deer will come with the new beds …