Day 3 of telling you more about Anathoth and asking if you might donate to help this non-profit continue its mission. Thank you, thank you to the folks who have made contributions so far. I have three more days to raise money for Anathoth (I am striving for raising $500). If you haven’t yet, please visit my page and consider donating; $5, 10, $25, whatever you can!
Today, I’d like to tell you about how Anathoth uses internships to prepare adults to lead similar projects in their own community. For 10 weeks each summer we invite adults from across the country to come learn with us. This past year, some came from as far as Iowa and Kentucky, and others as close as Duke Divinity School and Wake Forest University School of Divinity. Beyond the softer learning that happens by way of osmosis from living and working together, their education also centers on a curriculum that is part practical and part theological. Interns are taught horticultural skills like starting seeds in a greenhouse and also to see how many of the divisions in our communities and churches stem from a broken agricultural history.
This past year we were excited to introduce a new adult program we call the season-long apprenticeship, where former interns or other folks with previous agricultural experience can learn the day-to-day operations of our agricultural ministry throughout the entire growing season.
Here’s today’s reflection:
Paul instructs the body of Christ to “rejoice with those who rejoice; to weep with those who weep.” It is the mark of true community to share in each others’ joy and pain. During my ten weeks interning at Anathoth, we have gathered together often and shared about our lives as we work, before workday potlucks, and around the table. I have felt overwhelmed in those moments by joy and sorrow that is not my own – or rather, that is made my own through the mysterious, God-given presence of friendship.
With that being said, there could be no sweeter way to close my time at Anathoth than with a sudden and overwhelming abundance of long-awaited tomatoes! The joy of the tomato harvest is shared amongst our community in the most tangible way of sharing I can think of – eating together. One of the gifts of HarvestShare is that I can share in the joy of people who I have and have not met. I don’t know everyone who will eat the tomatoes that we have so joyfully harvested in the past week, but we are all together in the joy nonetheless. It is through the support of the HarvestShare community that we are able to grow tomatoes, it is for you that we harvest them, and it is with you that we joyfully eat the fruits of our labor.
As you enjoy Anathoth’s tomatoes, know that their growth has been a long journey of labor and love. If you’ve read Julia’s weekly farm updates in the newsletter, you will have read quite a bit about tomato plant care. During my ten weeks of work as an intern, we have prepared the soil for the tomato beds, driven tomato stakes, planted the seedlings, suckered them (pruning to produce more effectively), tied them, tied some more, and then tied some more! (A twangy refrain of “bury me with my tomato twine” became the song that echoed over the fields in homage to the everpresent task of tying our growing tomatoes.) In the sweat of all that work, I felt the practices of sacrifice, prayerful patience, and unconditional care become ingrained into my increasingly calloused hands.
The joy of finally harvesting and eating these tomatoes, then, is no small joy. All who eat them share in the depth of that joy, and this shared rejoicing can only be the gift of the Spirit for the body of Christ. Praise be to God for such a gift.
This weekend, I left my home of the past ten weeks in Cedar Grove to return to my family and prepare for the coming school year. It is hard to leave behind a place and community that has welcomed and transformed me so thoroughly. It is also hard to leave behind the work that I have come to love – the care of tomatoes continues on, and preparation for the fall season is in full swing, and it is sad to step away from those every-day acts of care.
But our shared joy extends far beyond my time as an intern and has eased my mind in this time of transition. Here is the beautiful part of leaving: I brought some tomatoes and other veggies from the garden home with me. My mom and I made pico de gallo last night with Anathoth tomatoes, peppers, and onion. As we prepared and ate together, I shared stories of my time working at Anathoth. Even at a distance from the garden, we joined the body of people that rejoices together in the harvest. I ask of you, then, if you are enjoying the bounty of the harvest this summer, to eat your tomatoes. Share them with your neighbors. And know that they are the deepest expression of love and community that I can think of. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing in the joy of the harvest with us.