Here are a few snapshots of what we’ve been up to out at Ferncliff lately!
We built a goat playground! The tires were constructed by the Clemson University Presbyterian Student Association. There’s even a tiger paw print etched into the cement on the top tire! Goats love climbing, so Billy and Bobby are all over this playground. We’ve seen them running laps on it as well!
The Second Presbyterian Church youth group invited us to float sixteen miles down the Buffalo River!
I organized a “millennials retreat” for the 20-somethings of Second Presbyterian out at Ferncliff. We played games, canoed and kayaked, cooked a cake inside of an orange (which I didn’t know was a thing until very recently). It was a ton of fun!
We visited Crystal Bridges, a free art museum with beautiful natural walkways in northwest Arkansas. Then we formed a band and posed for pictures!
I had the incredible opportunity to hear Alicia Garza, one of the founders of #blacklivesmatter movement. I was reminded that narratives are crafted in a particular way to create a particular outcome. That yes, all lives matter, but we don’t live in a world that affirms this truth or the value of black lives. I was reminded that hashtags don’t create movements; people do. I hope to continue learning what it means to be a responsible white ally in this movement.
Several of our community days in the past month have centered around food justice. Here, we shopped together at our local Kroger in search of locally-grown food to prepare for lunch. Since agriculture is Arkansas’ largest industry, we thought at least some of the vegetables would come from Arkansas. Nope. The squash Erik is standing in front of came from Guatemala. Most of the other veggies came from California. We used vegetables from the Ferncliff garden for our lunch instead! Other community days’ we’ve visited Heifer International’s Headquarters to learn about sustainable community developments and gone to the Farmer’s Market together.
We have two bunnies, Penelope and Lola. Both have escaped recently. Erik and I (plus two guys from Ferncliff’s maintence) spent an afternoon in pursuit of Lola using a trashcan, a bamboo stick, and a net.
We marched in an Interfaith Pilgrimage for Peace through Little Rock and attended a remembrance service. We read the names of people who have died at the hands of violence in our community, read excerpts from many religions calling for peace, and prayed this prayer written by an Interfaith youth group:
We are standing in your presence to pray for peace and harmony.
We pray for a day when your love envelops the earth.
A day when spirits that unite us are stronger than the forces that divide us. A day when all people are one no matter what color, race, or religion. Please grant us compassion to care for all creation; love to keep us strong; and acceptance to reduce hatred.
Please guide our hearts through understanding, so we may coexist in harmony, and universal peace may prevail the earth. Amen!
I’m so thankful for this crew! These are a few of next year’s YAV class at Ferncliff for Discernment weekend. I discerned as well.. I’ll tell the story (and announce where I’m going) in my next post.
Sixty 4th graders and I played in the garden, got our hands dirty, turned compost, watered, weeded, checked for chicken eggs, cuddled with goats, and sampled some lettuce and spinach picked right off the plant. They asked questions, exploring the natural world with eyes wide open and filled with wonder.
A boy told me he never knew he liked spinach before today. I was grateful for an unexpected lesson in odd chicken behavior from a girl whose family raises chickens. Another boy asked me very detailed questions about the compost, hoping to relay the information to his family so they could start a compost pile of their own. I heard one girl excitedly say to her friend “I want to plant a garden at home now!” and began to imagine what she would grow.
I’m inspired and filled with hope by the wonder I witnessed on this field trip and am looking forward to experiences like this every day when campers arrive!
Mercy Church’s offering time isn’t about collecting money. You bring something of yourself to offer the community, whether it’s a song, poem, artwork, interpretive dance, joke, story, or drum solo. My offering today was the first sugar snap pea harvest of the season from Ferncliff’s garden! I’m grateful for the opportunity to connect my work in the garden with people experiencing homelessness, especially in the context of worship.
Also at Mercy Church, Marie, Erik, and I had the opportunity to lead the Maundy Thursday worship service. The community you worship with influences the lens through which you interpret scripture; reading through the passion narrative with people experiencing poverty and homelessness changes how I understand the crucifixion.
We went on a retreat to Gulf Shores, Alabama with six other Southeastern YAV sites! It was an absolutely incredible and restful weekend, filled with laughs, reunions, and a only few sunburns. The YAV community really is my family. I couldn’t be more thankful for them!
There are so many more things I could talk about! We just have so many awesome opportunities here in Little Rock.
ALSO, shameless plug, the Little Rock site still has openings for next year!! Apply by June 1st!