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Guest Post: Elijah English

Ordinarily, I hate weeding. But today something is different. Today it gives me peace.

Here I am in Sandstone Minnesota, at Abraham’s Table Farm for two weeks. It’s

becoming an annual trip I make to see good friends, get away from normal life, and work

hard out in the sun with people I love. The day is Friday May 29th. I’d normally be

excited for the weekend after a long week of work. It usually includes pizza, beer, games,

and good conversations. But today, I don’t feel right.

Four days ago, a Minneapolis police officer brutally murdered an unarmed

black man who had committed no crime, in broad daylight. This is yet another police

murder in a string of killings that have happened in the past few months. This time

I’m not quite 2 hours from where the killing took place, and as I watch the news, protests

erupt across the country, protesting turns into rioting, and in many cities the violence is

out of control on both sides of the line. My heart is heavy, it’s burdened down by the

brutality of the police against the people they’ve sworn to protect. My heart grieves with

my black brothers and sisters who are being disproportionately targeted in police violence

and killings. In those moments everything in me wants to get out there and fight along

side them, screaming for justice, crying out with them for equality and peace.

But here I am, weeding in the garden, bent over, sun on my back and wind in my

face. All I feel is anger, swirling inside my heart, quickly turning to hatred and bitterness.

Angry with the police, angry with the systems built on oppression and violence, angry

with the entire government as it has watched murder after murder and done almost

nothing to change things. I feel stuck in a world of violence and death, a world where

injustice and cruelty reigns. I question what my purpose is in a violence ridden world,

and how I can bring about peace around me. I stay knelt there, on the ground, a sense of

hopelessness beginning to wash over me.

To help ground myself I turn on my go to calming music, the soundtrack to the

Lord of the Rings films. I’m still weeding, the song Concerning Hobbits comes on,

bringing to me visions of the Shire, Hobbits gardening, cultivating the earth, but more

than anything it brings an overwhelming sense of peace. I think about the story of The

Lord of the Rings, Frodo and Sam, fighting to the end to keep peace in their community,

the fight to save the Shire from the growing darkness of Mordor. This quote came to me

as I sat there processing;

Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It's

like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and

danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could

the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had

happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must

pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those

were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small

to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those

stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because

they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good left in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.

Once again, this dialogue hit home for me. There is still good left in this world, and it

truly is worth fighting for. It’s worth never giving up, running the race, and continuing to

the bitter end.

So, here I am on the ground tediously pulling up weeds, but now my task feels

grounding, peaceful, pure. I feel hope as I look down at the dirt covering my hands, pants

and shirt. I feel grounded, connected, free! It fills me with longing for the coming back of

Jesus. I long for the earth to be renewed. To be working the ground side by side with

brothers and sisters working in peace and unity.

Joel and Megan have cultivated the ground and turned Abraham’s Table Farm into

an efficient, self sufficient source of vegetables, meat and eggs. But more than that,

they’ve cultivated the spiritual culture around them and turned the farm into a haven for

healing, restoration, and peace. There are few other communities I’ve been to that

intentionally create unity and peace. Without that groundwork I don’t believe I would feel

the same connection to the dirt and the grass, and the peace that comes with that. It’s been

a highlight of mine to come to the farm these past two years. I love and support whole

heartedly what they’re doing here, and I can’t wait to come back next year!

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