There a many....blessings....to home ownership: leaky pipes, damp basements, spalling in masonry, landscaping challenges, drippy faucets, cracked plaster...do I need to go on? I am sure you can flesh out the list in some remarkable ways. While there are all these challenges, and more, to owning a home, I can say that many of these challenges teach me a great deal about stewardship-both the effort Laura and I put into caring for our home-but also for the awarenesses of being called to learning new skills and the opportunity to live mindfully and (for me a personal challenge) calmly in the midst of a world that is always breaking down. Nothing in this existence is forever. Buildings are forever crumbling. Every boat is always sinking. Institutions are either growing and evolving or decaying and declining. Good stewardship is about using resources in a godly way to shore up and renew those little constructs of sticks and stones we call homes, even as moth and rust consume.
So, as the summer months fade to memory, and as the recovery from hurricane, earthquake, flood and coastal storms continues, I give thanks for a couple of weeks in which we can engage in some simple maintenance-as opposed to the challenge of rebuilding from scratch the tumbling debris of dramatic cataclysms in our midst.
What does that look like? Last Friday, Laura and I spent time in our garden, removing the spent stalks of Brussels sprouts, the bones of tomato plants, and salvaged the last peppers left on the plants that have now succumbed to frost. We turned the soil, mulched the marigolds and mowed the lawn. Next up is composting the beds, planting a cover crop or mulching and cleaning/sharpening tools before they are stored for the winter. The grape vine needs to be pruned back, the compost pile turned. We will also empty the rain barrel, tie up the hoses and shut off the outdoor spigots. These are all mundane tasks, and yet I find myself experiencing a sense of renewal and hope for the spring that all these preparations are intended for while at the same time giving thanks for the growing season that has passed.
What a year, our first at St. Peter's and the first in this house. So many challenges, so much to learn, so many choices to make as a steward of hearth, home and parish. So many opportunities to give thanks for the blessings of family, friends and parishioners who continue to turn out to work on nurturing this community into new life in Christ.
It has been decades, so many, since I first started to listen to Jesus' parables about sowers, planters, vineyard tenants and the challenges to embracing a life in Christ when so much of that new life is about the pure, physical labor of building, sorting, caring and tendering mindful stewardship of the land and people we are gifted with that create, and recreate, the Church for every generation.
Soon, St. Peter's will begin to not only rebuild from our flood. We will begin to build for a future world that our parish will be called to serve. What will it look like? What will we commit to accomplish in the name of Christ for generations of people we won't meet? What legacy is God asking of us to install? Time, faith and the people of God will reveal that new reality, even as God again calls us to labor in the gardens, fields and vineyards of the Kingdom of the Son.