I definitely do not have a ‘green thumb’, so why am I leading a Street Hope Community Garden project? I have noticed over the past years that when I am ‘weak’ in an area, and honest about it in the community, that people rally around to shore up my deficiencies so energetically. This degree of energy is much less visible if I have confidence in my ability. So I am learning to be less confident in myself and more confident in our community.
This week two guys from the half-way house lent their strong backs and insights to our project of clearing a vacant lot in order to build a community garden. This plot belongs to John Paul Westin the new Rector of Stone Church. He and his wife offered it to Street Hope for our use as a garden. It is nice to have garden neighbours who are so invested and prayerful for our efforts. Across the street is a notorious ‘crack shack’ and so we have the opportunity to witness to the generous abundant life that God alone gives on the very doorstep of this icon of evil.
While we (mostly the other guys) were clearing brush and pulling the bigger weeds we uncovered a huge pile of bricks. As we had a conversation with a neighbour across the fence we learned that a chimney near by was torn down and that the bricks were dumped on this vacant lot. One of my helpers suggested we should throw the bricks back where they came from. This gave me a chance to feel useful as I explained that Jesus wants us to retaliate by blessing those who curse us, praying for those who use us badly and turning the other cheek to those who might slap us! The neighbour across the fence was so happy to see the lot being cleaned up. We are in search of a truck to haul away the bricks we have been blessed with.
One of our other recent projects is another where I take a ‘back seat’. For several years I have offered a ‘Christian 12 Step Program’ with little to show for my efforts. A friend of mine who is very respected in the AA community came and talked to me about the possibility of putting on a workshop for AA members and leaders. As we talked I realized this was an opportunity to evangelize the AA community by calling it back to its roots. I mostly make the coffee and stay quiet as Kris teaches the Program. Folks who have been attending meetings for years are having their eyes opened to the spiritual nature of the solution to the problem of alcoholism. One point made was that besides a sponsor each member ought to have a spiritual adviser outside the group. I was gratified when one long time member told me that when this workshop had run its course that he was looking me up!
I used to look for things to do that matched my strengths but as I learn more about community I am finding a new satisfaction in the fact that “when I am weak He is strong”, and often through his gift to me of community. This growing concept opens up limitless possibilities!