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“Equal rights for others do not mean fewer rights for you.  It’s not pie.”

This is one of those sayings that I dearly love even if it does beg the question.  So what is like pie?

We’ve been taught to think that universities are limited in the numbers of young learners they can accept. We are told that affirmative action is why there aren’t enough seats for other students. Yet, class after class is canceled when not enough students enroll.  Credit courses and continuing education classes alike suffer this fate.

Jobs? Common knowledge is that if we let those people in and give them jobs, then there won’t be enough jobs for the rest of us.  Of course, we are also supposed to believe that employment is up.  And, when employment is up, people spend more money on homes, cars, food and clothing.  That would mean more jobs, maybe not making these items but selling and maintaining and keeping them clean.

Whenever I hear someone talking about how generosity to “those people” is what has cost us, I think about the loaves and fishes.  For those of you who don’t remember the specifics, here is the story of Christ feeding the multitude as it is written in the Book of John.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”  He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there).  Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”  So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

Even if the boy was worried, John doesn’t say anything about him complaining to Jesus.  “Wait minute! If I give this to you, I won’t have enough.  But if the boy did complain, I imagine Christ telling him.  “Don’t worry.  It isn’t pie.  There will be enough for everyone.

–SueBE

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In college, among other things, I studied Asian history.  One of the professors described how when a government department in imperial China ceased to be effective, a new department was created.  It would do the work of the old department which was left in place.  In my twenties, I didn’t understand this.  Wouldn’t it be easier to FIX the old department?

As part of the sandwich generation, I truly understand how difficult it is to get one group to change their ways while satisfying the younger groups need to do something new.   Trying to convince someone to try something new when they are being misty-eyed about something old is almost impossible. Do not even get me going about the “good old days.”  I’m a historian.  I know about the pre-civil rights, pre-antibiotic, pre-EPA good old days.  Thanks, but no.

I’ve quit arguing, but I haven’t given up.  And fortunately I’ve found a group of likeminded individuals, all the parents of young adults.  Coincidence?  I think not.  We formed our church’s green committee.   When the Presbytery challenged congregations to feed their local poor, we expanded the garden, handing shovels, hoes and rakes to the teens and challenging them to put some sweat behind those lofty words.

But we didn’t just dare them.  We were literally out in the field with them, leading by example.  We could have told them to quit bad mouthing their elders.  We could have told them to pick up a hoe and get to work.  Instead we picked up our own tools and led them out to feed the poor.

I thought that I would rue my time in the field with an achy back and blistered hands.  But no one in my immediate family was a gardener and I’m enjoying learning about growing food.  Lead and learn new ways.  Not a bad combination.

–SueBE

 

This summer, Florissant Presbyterian Church is expanding our garden.  Everything we grow goes to the local food pantry.  Last year, our bumper crop was cucumbers as in 200 lbs.  We also had carrots, onions and lettuce but by far our biggest crop was cucumbers.  We’re going to have a lot of cucumbers again this year but we are trying to balance things out a bit.  We’ve added tomato and pepper plants as well as seeding lettuce, radishes, kale, corn and more.

As the kids are calling it, a baby apple tree.

It is easy to see the change for the better without considering the stresses and strains that come with it.  After six hours in the garden on Saturday my hands still hurt today.  No, I don’t have arthritis but apparently pulling up that much sod is not without consequence.  Would I do it again?  Yes, I would.  I’m sore and my hands are cramping but it is nothing to the cramping bellies from the school children who don’t get their meals at school over the summer.  The thought of feeding those kids keeps me motivated.

It took a bit more than that when my husband unpacked the shipment of bare root apple trees.  Never seen a bare root apple tree?  Imagine a stick with a few scraggly roots.  They looked like Harry Potter wands trying to take root.

But my husband assured me that this was how they were supposed to look.  And, yes, he was sure.  It wasn’t easy to find the motivation to help with those bedding boxes.  But I believed my husband and had faith.  This is a tree?  Then by the grace of God it will grow.

And they have.  All three of them are leafing out.  This makes it a lot easier to focus on the positive changes beginning to take place on our grounds.  The horse shoe pits?  No one has played in years but that’s where we planted the blackberries so no one would accidentally mow them down.

We may not be using the land the way we did 60 years ago when people played soft ball and horse shoes.  But being able to feed our hungry neighbors?  That’s a change worth making.

–SueBE

 

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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