No walls but beds that hold the soil,
welcoming all to join the toil;
Of life-giving ways.
Warmth of sun and soaking rain,
calls forth seed to rise and proclaim;
Of hope and resurrection ways.
Gardening is life in so many ways. It is a way of getting back to the elements that make up our very bodies, for we are mud creatures, created from the earth. There is a sense of connectedness that can only arise when we are in communion with soil, seed, plant, flower, tree and fruit. God is a gardener and has always called us back into the symbiotic relationship that began in the garden among the trees and plants.
In a world that has become so mechanized and digitized and industrialized, we find that we have become disconnected from ourselves and community. A community garden can be a cathedral of rich spiritual energy, storytelling, labor giving, harvesting, practice and community building. This is the body of Christ and a way of food justice, when our toil answers the question of healthy eating, food deserts, food independence and hunger abatement. This is love in action, on our knees in the seedbed and cultivating life regulated not by a clock or an artificial mechanized rhythm, but the rhythm of weather, season, planting cycles, holy listening.
This garden church, this Sacred Table Community Garden, has a liturgy all its own and reveals a way of being the church that dances to the cosmic dance of God in a garden cathedral. As a part-time church planter in our diocese in the Columbus area, commissioned just two months before the pandemic took hold, I have spent time listening to the rhythms that have emerged in a community called Hilltop. As I listened to the community, I found myself entering into a conversation and movement already begun by some amazing practitioners in the area of hunger, justice, food deserts, food insecurity, health and economy, all in the context of urban gardening. During the conversation, I also encountered spiritual leaders interested in entering the question of gardening through an interfaith lens. Thus, my work as a church planter is being grown in a community garden of radical hospitality and spiritual connections for the sake of the most vulnerable.
I am finding that a key aspect of being the Body of Christ (the church) in the midst of a world hungering for connection and justice is the act of showing up in conversations already taking place in community. My hope is that both in and out of the garden, a table will appear (an altar, if you will), and around that table will gather a beautiful mosaic of human connection as we break bread and share stories and listen to, learn with and love the God who is already sacramentally present and inviting us to serve.
Sacred Table Community Garden is led by Father Joseph Kovitch and an amazing team of partners and practitioners. This garden only asks that you come as you are, give what you can, and take what you need – three humble steps dedicated to community building and healing by drawing those of faith and no faith into love in action. Above all, we celebrate our interfaith community relationships as we honor inclusion and diversity of the beautiful mosaic that is the human family.
As we grow in partnerships, know that we will continue to be creative with opportunities for all to serve to their best availability and interest. We have partnered with Big Lots Corporation as a sponsor, along with Episcopal, Buddhist, Methodist, Baha’i, other local gardens and community leaders as we connect, grow and serve. We are all in this together in the name of love. Our hope is to not only share our harvest with all who hunger, but also seek to give ourselves to listen, learn and love the stories and lives of each human being (and plant) we meet.
Yes, a community garden can be a church and a church can grow out of a community garden; for from this garden will grow worship, liturgy, Word and sacrament and discipleship. If you would like to learn more about our emerging story (or would like to join us for planting, harvesting, and sharing), don’t hesitate to contact Father Joseph at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come and visit the Sacred Table Community Garden at 300 Phillipi Rd. in Columbus, Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sundays 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday times are still TBD.