“My name is Reed.” He said. “Mine too.” I replied. “Mine is with a double E though” “Mine too” I replied. So went a serendipitous conversation on the sidewalk by our community garden. Reed had just been walking by and looking curious so I engaged him in conversation. He told me he lived just around the corner. I invited him to take an interest in our garden. I am hoping that folks in this community will take a personal interest in this project and so keep a watchful eye on it. Reed wandered off home and with no further excuse to lollygag I went back to shovelling mounds of top soil into buckets and barrows for distribution in the coffin-like beds we had constructed for our vegetable garden. In about 30 minutes Reed was back in work clothes and began to work! He stayed at it the rest of the morning.
Throughout the day, I was delighted to take breaks to talk to a wide variety of people, ranging from dog walkers, to seniors out for a stroll to a local slum landlord. I didn’t realise until midway through our conversation who this landlord was. My ignorance probably made the conversation a better witness as I explained our project and the heart of the people who had given us use of the land. He was incredulous that people would use land they were paying property taxes on, for such unprofitable purposes!
I remembered reading a great book “Sidewalks in the Kingdom” by Eric Jacobsen. In it he advocates sitting on the front porch rather than the back deck, in order to meet and interact with the neighbourhood. Certainly working right on the edge of the street provides all sorts of opportunity to chat and to share who we are and what motivates us. The fact that my back aches and I welcome the respite allows me to honestly portray a warm welcome to those who stop by. Not long ago a friend described my ministry as “peripatetic”. After he explained to me that this meant ministry happened as I walked, I saw his point. Now though I am branching out into a kind of ministry that is rooted in a particular place. That place though is on an urban thoroughfare so others can do the peripatetic stuff. Later this summer I may invest in a comfortable lawn chair and just sit and watch our garden grow and welcome interruptions and interrupters. Doesn’t that sound like ministry at its most energy efficient? (I wonder if there is a grant for that)