Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Perennial Church

Hi. Here is a selection taken from my weekly or every other week email news and comments sent out from The Living Room Church and A Third Place Community Center here in Turley, OK.

The Perennial Church:
About a month ago, as I was driving past the Welcome to Turley signs at 56th St.. north and 74th St. north on Peoria Ave. I noticed that the gardens our church planted there were looking pretty scraggly and thick and "weedy" but my wife reminded me to see what wasn't visible, what was to come, soon, to have faith. I was worried because others were also telling me that it looked like the gardens at the sign were growing higher and getting "weedy" and one neighbor was itching to mow them all down and was mad at how they were looking. Then overnight it seemed, with a little of our rainfall, those "weeds" burst open and the gardens at the sign were transformed into the showy evening primrose, the blazing red poppies, the blue salvia, and more that they had been all along as they were going through their natural cycle of growth.

I remember last year and the year before through the hard drought and the equally hard floodings how the gardens struggled, how much work it took to get them planted, to try to even up the lumber of the bed edges (you should have seen those big squares of lumber bungied to the top of our truck as we drove around Turley to the sites lol), and especially to try to keep them watered without a portable water tank, constantly filling up a 30 gallon bin and scooping out the water to pour on the gardens. And they didn't look like much for a while. Then the long winter last, and the ice storms (which at one site still have piles of debris on part of our garden signs that hasnt been removed yet because Peoria Ave. in Turley is outside the city limits of Tulsa, is considered a state highway so the county officials won't maintain and pick up the tree debris, and the state officials seem busy elsewhere; leaving one intersection dangerously blocked by tree debris still after all this time since last December, so not waiting on "they' it looks like the usual 'we' of our small group needs to go out and ourselves take care of that dangerous intersection on Peoria). Anyway, it all began to look the last few months like all the hard work had been for nought. And we were all too busy with all the new projects to go and start over, to nurture the gardens. The whole welcome sign garden work seemed like a failure, especially to those who didn't know its natural cycle.

Then without us doing anything now, the blooms and beauty came again and the edges of our little abandoned place looked cared for and special again, graced. The same with the flowers we had planted for the local businesses. Feeling bad that we hadn't "kept up" with our constant tending and worry and weeding and watering, in the midst of it all grace happens, the natural cycle does its sustaining spiritual thing, and gifts abound.

So, of course, witnessing all this I am thinking of the Church, and how the Church founded in the modern agricultural method of human constant control becomes so unsustainable, so killing of the Spirit, while the Church founded in the organic natural method of focusing on the foundation of soil, and of the native plants for that soil, becomes a place full of simple sustainability of Spirit where gifts abound and where people can move on to new places in need of good healthy soil and the right seeds, trusting that grace will teem and tend to its own. How are our churches stuck in the pattern of having to plant and replant and care for and recare for revolving doors of people like you see institutional planting of annuals just so the color looks good to others, annuals that have to be uprooted once the season is over and replanted with others for the next season then uprooted again? Or how are our churches refocusing to consider what kind of lively soil and what kinds of the right seeds we are planting in people and communities, trusting to let God's DNA do the rest?

May our church, may our church, may my life, your life, our families, our communities learn to live and grow in the perennial spirit of the perennials. Cultivate Your Spirit In the Liberation of Others and the World.


Type rest of the post here