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Season of Creation: Eco-Reformation (Reed Fowler)

We always had a garden growing up. It had tomatoes, jalapeños, bell peppers, lettuce, radishes, carrots, and at least one vine vegetable, like cucumbers. My mom made and canned her homemade salsa from the harvest, enough to last us through to the next season – and we went through a lot! What we had grown and picked, we preserved to last us the entire winter and following spring, which, in rural Vermont, is the bulk of a calendar year.

I remember one year, when, after rotating the crops in our small garden to maximize the nutrients left in the soil from previous years, we had an explosion of cucumbers. They spilled over the tires we had banked to support the plants, growing outward, past the rectangle of the garden into the lawn. And they produced abundantly. We gave freely to our neighbors, my parents coworkers, family friends, and still had to think really creatively on how to integrate cucumber into more of our own meals.

That abundance from the soil is a radical departure from the scarcity narrative I am fed everyday. Empire and capitalism constantly tell me that there is not enough, that I am not enough. That in order to have even close to enough, I need to consume and buy and tune out, instead of realigning with creation.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can live into our imaginings of the Kingdom of God. And I use the word ‘imaginings’ really intentionally – when I’m imagining something, it is fantastical and energetic and too good to be true, at least in how we live now. It feels impossible to accomplish, as soon as a hint of doubt or cynicism creep in.

But the earth tells us differently. It tells me differently when I witness rosebushes, cut to the ground, sprout new buds after being covered with burlap and mulch over a long winter, with piles of snow and weeks of below-zero temperature. It is a wild imagining that they would come back abundantly, renewed. It’s too good to be true! And that’s exactly what creation does. It’s constantly resurrecting and growing.

Even when we don’t see it happening. When I plant seeds in the springtime and water them, growth happens long before they sprout above the dirt. And then they burst forward with abundance, answering creations call – producing enough cucumbers to feed a small rural town, a garden providing us enough to live off of and then even more to share.

This testimony feels vulnerable in a different way than others I’ve given – it destabilizes me to lean into a vision of abundance because it feels naïve. It’s risky, because there is so much more to lose. In addition to being fed narratives on how I’m not enough, there is another narrative that runs even deeper that tells me we can’t win. That the Kingdom of God in abundance is literally impossible, so why even try? That fear of impossibility and naivety overwhelms me.  Which is why I garden. It’s a radical act against scarcity narratives, and it is also a tangible reminder that the truth of creation is stronger than the truths we are living in. God’s truth, that seeds are be planted in the dirt and then grow and produce exponentially, is the ground we walk on, even when concrete distances us. And when that distance overwhelms me, I sit with the plants on my windowsill and marvel in the reality of their growth and abundance.

-Reed Fowler

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