Hope for Change: Gardening Camp (Rev. Carmen Retzlaff)
At New Life Lutheran Church in Dripping Springs, Texas, we worship outside, every Sunday. In that way, a slow way, we are reconnecting with the land and changing our relationship to it.
At Gardening Camp, children work in our community garden, planting food that will go to our local food pantry. Clients at the pantry love getting fresh produce with their shelf-stable items. Children learn about connections to our neighbors, and about connections to the earth. They dig in the earth, they learn how plants grow. At the end of each day’s gardening session, we hold a little earth close to our hearts, and pray, and then scatter it on the garden, rich with the blessing.
Children also have nature walks - exploring the plants, birds, animals and pollinators of our Texas Hill Country landscape. They have Bible stories under an ancient oak tree from the Godly Play tradition, stories of the people of God wandering in the desert, of Jesus walking and teaching and healing. And under the tent, they have snacks and make art and do yoga. All outside, even though it is the hottest month of the year.
It is summer break from school, and they are outside. They are touching dirt, finding insects, listening to birds, sitting under trees. In a world where environmental problems seem overwhelming, this gives me hope. Reconnecting. Children rooted in their local environment: they will be good stewards, thoughtful leaders, caring neighbors.