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A pitchfork, a pile of manure, and a few friends

The eating part of the community meal had just ended. Folks lingered about, getting refills of cold water and enjoying the company. I sauntered out to the garden to begin working in our community garden that would grow healthy and justly produced food to help feed people at the meal. I hoped someone would follow. Soon three guys followed me out, Frank in his 60s, Jimmy in his late teens, and Bob who is 8. We all put on gloves and began to load horse manure and straw into the wheelbarrow so we could use it to create pathways through the garden. Frank told stories of growing up in the country, baling hay, and clearing land for pasture use. Jimmy listened intently and interjected his own work experiences. Meanwhile Bob was happily spreading the manure and finding all kinds of interesting things along the garden pathway. The conversation and work continued on in a leisurely pace and I didn’t say much.

The birds sang and the crickets played their tunes and the sun beat down upon us as it began to creep toward the western horizon. We worked on and at the end of the second pathway we were sweaty, tired and probably a little smelly. But I didn’t care. I was as content and peaceful as can be. We didn’t solve the world’s problems that night and we probably didn’t even solve our own but for one hour the four of us tasted something beautiful.

I believe it was a glimpse of God’s reign breaking in on the earth—the reign where all things are in right relationship with each other. It is where the elderly are revered for their wisdom and stories and where the young are continually fascinated. It is where the earth is cared for and renewal happens through death. It is where peace kisses justice and righteousness hugs truth.

Perhaps the kingdom of God isn’t as mystical as it seems. And it just might be only a pitchfork, a pile of manure, and a few friends away.

–Dan Kauffman

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