Rolled some grass, got loaded, and played duck, duck, goose!
You just never know what may happen on a trip to the inner city.
This past Saturday, our church took around 80 people to volunteer there – most of them youth in the 7th – 12th grades. Some of our kids went to work at the homes mowing grass, removing weeds, cleaning gutters, and anything else that they could find that needed to be done. Our largest group of kids were reserved for a plot of land that was being reclaimed for a special purpose.
On the lot had once stood a house used for drug deals so the city had burned the house down and let the lot grow over. I have heard that nature hates a vacuum and in this case the city had left a void that, ironically, was filled with two types of weeds; every day weeds and the type of weed referred to as marijuana. Someone had found the circumstances advantageous to their enterprise and had used the lot for growing pot.
That is until last week. A group of people got together and made a plan that would clean up the lot and leave it with a purpose. Get this – the lot is going to become over 30 plots for what will be called Grace Gardens. They have received over 150 applications from the people in the area to have one of the plots when they are finished. These people are interested in growing a different type of crop – one that consists of vegetables that build up the body.
When we arrived on the site the lot had been mowed, the ‘weed’ had been removed, and the sod cutters were busy at work exposing the bare earth below the grass that had to be removed in order to deliver the top soil. Our jobs were to roll the cut grass into little coils and load them on trailers to be delivered to a home that was in need of the sod. Several of us went to the site where the sod was to be delivered and spent the afternoon unloading what the other group had loaded onto the trailers. It was dirty work but we were fortunate to have a few minutes between the loads to sit down and talk.
Imagine 5 or 6 guys (some old folk and some teen folk) sitting around in a circle on the grass. Do this through a child’s eyes and what do you see? A little girl of about 10 or 11 years of age saw an opportunity. She walked up and started tapping us on the head and calling out “Duck, Duck, Duck, ….. Goose!”
I don’t know what you would have done in that circumstance but we chose to play duck-duck-goose. Within minutes we had 3 more children join the game.
While I was wondering what the people in this neighborhood were thinking about this odd sight, there was an older lady in the other neighborhood asking how much money those kids were making for cleaning gutters and cutting grass. Our society is one that is always looking for the hook. We have been taught through action and deed that there is no such thing as a free lunch – everything has to have a hidden cost somewhere.
Here’s the thing… they are right. Unfortunately, that lady who came out on her porch wondering what price was being paid for the work being done asked the wrong question.
Our youth had been busy preparing the ground for some seeds that one day will bear fruit in that neighborhood. Some of that soil being prepared was contained in a modest sized plot of land but more importantly, their actions were cultivating the soils of the heart.
They weren’t being paid, they were paying the cost. The lady’s suspicions were correct – there is no free lunch. Our kids were paying for it and they were doing it as a reflection of what had already happened in their lives. Christ paid a cost that they were unable to afford. It is my prayers that two neighborhoods recognized love that Saturday afternoon and that seeds will grow in their hearts that will lead to a harvest of life.