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. T