Blessing of the Community Garden Land
St. Augustine of Canterbury Anglican Church
April 16, 2015, 6:30pm
We gather before the ground is broken.
We will gather again when the garden build is complete.
(This act of blessing is a kind of recognition of God’s gifts and a way of marking that we will be asking the land to do a new thing. It was a grass factory up until now, and we are asking it to become a neighborhood center and space of deeper production. More words on blessing at the very bottom.)
Leader The earth is still wet from the winter.
People The buds are beginning to burst.
Leader All is gift, all is given, all is gift.
People We are thankful for new life.
Leader Let us pray,
Creator and maker of all, you sustain us day by day with the gifts of the soil; it is our life and we go back to it; we eat, we rest, we make our homes, and we find joy on this land: make us truly conscious of your love for us and your presence with us in the growing seed and in the joy of community, we pray through our brother Jesus Christ who walks this land by your Holy Spirit.
A meditation on God’s gifts to us in the earth from Psalm 104
(vss 1b, 14-18, NLT)
O Lord my God, how great you are!
You cause grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for people to use.
You allow them to produce food from the earth—
wine to make them glad,
olive oil to soothe their skin,
and bread to give them strength.
The trees of the Lord are well watered —
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
There the birds make their nests,
and the storks make their homes in the cypresses.
High in the mountains live the wild goats,
and the rocks form a refuge for the rock badgers.
Leader We gather up in our minds all the work that has been done for the Fulton Place Community Garden to come to this point – the imagining, the dreaming, the planning, The hard work submitting grants, coordinating ideas and opinions, designing, attending meetings, being present to the process, and pressing on when something faltered.
You are invited to name in one word what drew you to join this process…
Leader Let us now give thanks for this land set aside for building the Sunshine Garden:
For all animals and people who have lived on this land from the beginning of time till now…(silence)
For the kids and families who have played here…(silence)
For the community of St. Augustine’s who have prayed here for more than 50 years…(silence)
For those who will work to transform this land into a new shape of beauty, intergenerational relationship, rest for the weak, and satisfaction in labor for the strong. For all who will help build this garden and provide materials, tools, refreshment and encouragement for the work, for their safety and enjoyment…(silence)
We pray tonight for those who will use the garden, for their mutual support, imagination, husbandry of the plants, and wonder at how a seed grows into fruit…(silence)
We pray for the weak who will come to rest here, or who need this food for their sustenance. May we always work with them in mind…(silence)
We invite an elder of this community to speak to us about what it means to live on this land.
(Here, Lauretta Howard spoke about how she began in this area and how ‘they did the same things’ organizing and creating spaces for youth and taking care of one another.)
As we ask this land to bless us with fruitfulness, so we offer our thanks for its many gifts. A shovelful of dirt is turned and an offering of thanks is prepared.
(We dug a hole through the sod and ‘planted’ a handful of leaves from the Goodland apple tree that stands on the original farmhouse of the area.)
Leader In the name of God the maker of heaven and earth,
In the name of Jesus Christ – who leads us in the way of compassion and healing –
In the name of the Spirit who inspires and unites us,
We bless this land for the building of a garden and the strengthening of a neighborhood, knowing that this land has already been a blessing to us.
People Let us bless this land in our diligent work and in the care of each other. Amen.
Leader Let us go in peace and go to our work.
People Thanks be to God
(We had a bucket of compost on hand and everyone who wished was welcomed to add their own prayer for the land with a handful of compost spread around.
A few photos from the event…
A Blessing of Land?
The Land is a central way that God blesses us. We come to know the goodness of our Creator through food, through resources, and through a place for us to make our home in the ecosystem. Our first response and last response is thanksgiving offered from a posture of humility – we are not our own and we have not made ourselves. We give thanks for the homes we make on this earth, for the chance to care for one another and experience love, for the gift of breath to fill our lungs each morning. The land blesses us, and so we bring our best as well back to the land and back to the Giver of life.
The blessing of farms or gardens is strongly rooted in Anglican tradition. On ‘Rogation Days’, the community would process around the perimeter of the parish boundaries with banners and bells, marking the boundaries of property at memorable trees or other landmarks. The word “rogation” derives from the Latin word rogare – “to ask.”
May the garden teach us stillness,
as the grasses are stilled with light.
May the garden teach us humility,
as blossoms are humble with beginning.
May the garden teach us courage,
as the tree stands in solitude.
May the garden teach us limitation,
as the ant which crawls on the ground.
May the garden teach us regeneration,
as the seed which rises in the spring.
May the garden teach us kindness,
as the dry plots weep with rain.
May the hungry be fed here,
strangers become friends here,
community be grown here.
May the garden bless and be blessed. Amen.
By Amy McCreath @ livingwatertown.wordpress.com