Greetings from very cold Camden, NJ! It is a beautiful winter day, a long cry from the 65° we had on Christmas Day! However cold it is, the beauty of winter is its quiet, its rest, its closing down of things, at least those things that need warmer air to breathe and grow and move. There is beauty in the cold of winter, and in the snow, and in the sight of one’s breath while working outside. There is beauty in the silence of the landscape, in the fire in the hearth, in the male cardinal, sitting on the fence, looking for some help to find his daily bread! It is a beauty that will save us! It’s beauty that we celebrate in Camden City!
Here in Camden we are engaged in the work of transformation. We seek to transform barren landscape into fruitful gardens and orchards. We seek to transform the hearts of those who cannot see the beauty in God’s creation, and so are not moved to care for it. We seek to transform the lives of the children of Camden, by giving them opportunities to grow food, to learn how to prepare it, to bring it home to their families, and to discover in themselves the possibility of beauty, a God-given beauty.
Transformation work is difficult and challenging. The soil of Camden is contaminated by toxic chemicals, a marker of its robust industrial past. Through patient care, and use of organic practices, over time spaces become rich with compost, with health microbial life, with the potential to yield abundant food in the form of beans, tomatoes, squash, kale and radishes, to name a few. It takes the attention and patience of the farmer, and the ability to listen to the soil as it speaks what it needs.
The transformation of hearts is also quite challenging. Such a transformation requires the willingness to change, to think about the world differently, to consider that one’s ways of walking on the planet are not as they could be. The transformation begins with shared experiences, working in the garden, with people at Joseph’s House, at the Neighborhood Center or at Sacred Heart School. The possibility of transformation is a seed planted in the soil of the heart, a soil prepared through reflection and sharing. We need to be attentive to what we are sowing in the hearts of our children, and to listen to them as they speak what they need.
This is transformative work, for the soil and those who work it. I’ve been transformed by my work with CFET. It has been such a privilege to be part of this “great work” of transformation as a member of the board of trustees. Since the end of December, I’ve gladly taken up the title of “volunteer.” I am confident that our new leadership will continue the work of transformation. I will continue to write these little notes each month, pointing out moments of beauty, asking questions about our responsibilities to the beautiful earth, inviting people to join us in partnership, in creating beauty in our lives, in our gardens, with the young people of Camden
It is winter, a peaceful and restful time. But it is also, at least in this part of the planet, a rest that has a purpose. Before we know it, the ice and snow and cold will recede, and life will rise up from the depths to make itself known with glorious abundance. Now, that is transformation indeed!
For those of you who contributed to our 2015 Annual Appeal. Thank you! For those of you who have not gotten to it, please do!
Board of Trustees