Sunday, March 11, 2012

Eighth Day Farm's New Urban Location & Thanks

One of my glad joys is the privilege to serve on the board of directors for Eighth Day Farm. Last year the farm moved into a plot of land that used to be a preschool. That just over half an acre produced more food than the 3 acres of remote, rural land we farm. Based on that success, a developer of the Holland Town Center, a dying outlet strip mall, has worked together with us to expand into another urban location. After a great morning meeting with the board, I was inspired to finally drive out to the location and see the roughly 1.5 acres of parking lot that has been removed and the 'new' dirt that is being laid in.

It is mind blowing to imagine what this this land will look like in four to six months.

This place:

Will look like this place:

So yesterday morning I hosted the Eighth Day board for breakfast at the house. Jeff, good friend and our farmer, brought a large dish of steel cut oats with apples and walnuts. I threw together some quiches and made a pot of coffee. Susanna graciously set the table. If our aim is to help our community to redeem food from the ground to the table, I assumed it'd be good for the board to share more time around a table too.

I'd asked everyone to come prepared to share for 3-5 minutes about what is inspiring each of them respectively to give their time, energy and even financial resources to the farm. Each board member had differing stories, different details, different explanations, but each exuded a tangible sense of enthusiasm about what we are doing together. We watched a fantastic new video that has been produced to help get the word out (which I'll be posting here soon hopefully). It was an exciting morning, a morning to believe in spring, and new life, sunshine and plants.

Being involved in community development, organic food and just good old-fashioned neighborliness...this farm, these all keeps me, the busy busy worship leader, somewhat sane, grounded (figuratively and literally), placed, and thankful.

I just came from brunch with renowned painter, Makoto Fujimura and a dozen or so Hope College students. Mako is presenting tomorrow in our chapel and doing a late afternoon lecture on what he calls "visual theology." The students asked questions that filled up almost two hours of discussion. At the end of our time together, looking around the table, Mako quoted Dana Gioia, former chairman of the NEA who often said in Mako's presence to any given group of people he was working with, there is enough creativity and energy in this room to change the world.

Driving home just now, I thought about how this describes much of my daily and weekly encounters with students, the ministry staff I serve with, the people I pray with, my good friends who are just now starting The School For Contemplatives in Action, and especially the board of directors who met here in my home yesterday. Thoughts like this along with the intoxicating weather outside, my baby boy sleeping upstairs (finally), and my pregnant professor-wife sitting over at the dining table grading papers make me a rich, happy man.

You have put gladness in my heart
   more than when their grain and wine abound. 

Psalm 4:7

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