When Doves Fly
Updated: Jan 9, 2019
(Original Oil Painting by Jess Weatherhead from Canada)
We all have in our head dreams of what could be. What something should look like. What something should look like, and what it actually looks like are rarely the same.
I remember taking our 7 year old boy to Yosemite. We told him about the famous and great, old faithful geyser that would shoot her spout high into the sky like clockwork. And we built up great anticipation in his mind, after we saw all the other wonders of the park, the bubbling sulfur springs, the waterfalls. the buffaloes. We then waited for what seemed a long time with thousands of people for the geyser to go off. And then old faithful shot up into the sky, we were rewarded for our patience. And then, after her show, the people clapped. And just as they were finished clapping and there was a silence before everyone walked away, my 7 year old boy said as clear as day: "That. Was. Lame." We, and the people around us, were shocked, almost offended for a brief second and then we burst out laughing. "You said it would shoot into space. It didn't go very high at all," he explained clearly dissapointed. You don't always get what you want. This is what we dreamed the farm/agribusiness community center might look like 5 years ago. We didn't have land at the time.
This is what it looks like now.
It is not much, a 200 square foot storage shed, and a tractor to keep down weeds. But this is better than what it looked like when we got it six months ago:
I heard several farmers mention that the first year at a farm you shouldn't anticipate growing anything. You just need to get your infrastructure in place. Well we are ahead of the game since we have 150 fruit trees and 1,500 feet of grapevines. But, we have five acres and only one of those have stuff growing, so we have lots of work to do. The first three months we borrowed our neighbors tractor and learned how much hard work it is to keep your land maintained. Nearly 4 hours just to cut crazy Bermuda grass growing out of control. Another 4 hours just to keep the fields plowed free of weeds. It takes 4 hours to irrigate the fields and we only have maybe 1 acre growing stuff. Imagine how that will increase as we grow. So, we purchased our own tractor and some implements. We are better neighbors when we can tend our garden.
The next three months we spent building a culvert crossing. We all need a path to get onto the land God has given us. We now have ours. We now have a five year plan in place, and an application submitted to get grants for irrigating all five acres. Nearly $50,000 in grant money, if they approve us. This will include a pond, a high tunnel or two, all the drip irrigation equipment needed including pumps, and some cover crops. If we are approved in June we will have our hands even more full.
But, having land makes your hands itchy. We were born to be farmers if you believe in the original commands in Genesis to tend the land. Just as land demands to be covered by the earth (usually in weeds and thistles unless managed), so too our hearts desire to plant, tend, grow, steward over, and have helpful dominion over the earth.
Ravens brought food to Elijah. Doves brought evidence that land was nearby, and that there would be an end to the flood. Hope. Land is tied to our livelihood.
Land brings hope. Land makes dreams possible. If God cares for the sparrow, and ravens, and doves, how much more does He care for us.
I was at the farm tonight, it was dark and beautiful, the hens were tucked away in their nests. The next door neighbor dog barked at my intrusion on our own land, he thinks he owns the cattle on a thousand hills, including the chickens on ours.
I straightened the tarps, reset the bags weighted down with dirt. I counted out the steps of the future rows of crops that would be growing. I imagined a community center building, where a Church happened to meet, that was dedicated to agritainment, agriculture, teaching others about good stewardship of the land and all the vital Kingdom aspects of the good news. The dreams placed in our hearts, as a community, have been growing for 13 years now. Dreams to care for people, to make beautiful things, to grow healthy food, and to feed the poor as well as the rich the best quality food that can be grown locally. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. But this is what I heard God say. Whether you build a Church here or not, I want you to grow.
God wants us to grow.
Jesus grew in wisdom, favor, and stature with God and men.
He wants us to grow as well.
He confirmed in me the path of growing food and tending the land until he would provide for the building. He didn't say, stop planning for the future building, He just wanted me to know, I felt, that it was ok to grow things - to include others in growing things. To invite others to grow.
It made me thankful for Shayne. Shayne wants to grow things as well. And the things Shayne grows are the most important crops of any on this earth. He grows kids. And lost things. He grows human beings. Him and his blessed wife. The promised land is coming. None of us knows what it will really look like. But we have hints. For now, it looks like 5 acres, well water, 9 chickens, almost too many fruit trees to tend, weeds that need to be fought back, weeds are our dragons. The promised land looks like working hard with our hand, and serving our neighbors, loving our neighbors, honoring them. We will keep casting our doves out into the wilderness, looking for them to return with a twig that tells us our day is coming, when the fullness of the Kingdom will be manifest on this earth. We are trying to expand that day one seed at a time. One seed of lemongrass. One seed of Swiss chard. One seed of love. One seed of kindness. One seed of the good news. We have no doubt that as we sow, so shall we reap, we believe in an abundant life here as well as in the one to come, we are Kingdom fools like that. We are listening to the cries of the doves, bringing signs of hope. We are hopelessly hopeful.
We will take the land. Our King, the King of King and Queen Creek farms, wills it so.