We've started taking the kids from Generation One (the after school program we volunteer with twice a week) to a community garden every other Friday. The first week we went the kids planted tomatoes in pots they had painted the previous week. Many of them had never seen a tomato plant before, the only tomatoes they had seen were in the grocery store. So when they were given their baby plant to put into their soil, many of them asked, "Where's the tomato?"
The next time we went their tomato plants had grown. This time they had the opportunity to water the plants and put worms into the dirt. After they had gotten over their fears of touching the worms, they kept going back for more and more. I couldn't hold back my smiles and laughs as I watched them gasp and crinkle their noses and poke the worms and hold them up over their friends' heads.
Our times at the community garden are times when everything feels right. Those are moments when I step back and am amazed at God's beauty. It's an incredible experience to watch those kids learn about how things grow - the different elements that work together to create these living parts of God's world. The garden is a place of redemptive beauty in the midst of the run-down buildings and littered streets of the Third Ward.
For a while now we've been taking a volleyball and net with us to Simple Feast on Sundays. Yesterday I jumped in and played with some of the other Ecclesians and guys at the park. I had no idea a casual game of volleyball could bring tears to my eyes. It was a time of laughter, unity, joy, and fun in the middle of a park filled with stories of betrayal, loneliness, addiction, separation, and struggle.
God's presence in the ordinary - things like volleyball and tomatoes - makes them sacred and beautiful tools of redemption.
P.S. The story from my last post got into the Houston Free Press!!