Building the Beloved Community: In the Beeloved Community Garden & the Courtyard.

This is the third of seven Monday meditations during Commitment (pledging) Season on Building the Beloved Community. This week Renee Elder offers a reflection on the Beeloved Community Garden & the Courtyard.

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
Psalms 133:1

The Psalm quoted above as our theme for the season at first struck me as merely wishful thinking, considering the state of the world we live in. Far from showing unity, God’s people seem to inhabit a place where criticism and conflict are our daily bread. From individual acts of violence, to displays of aggression and harsh words between leaders of nations, our people seem bent on stirring up strife instead of pursuing peace.

Although the idea of a “good and pleasant” world is certainly a compelling image, my mind struggles to envision an existence where acts of hate and distrust disappear and are replaced by those of love and unity.

animalsYet people say it is important to be able visualize something if you ever hope to achieve it. So, I borrow the image of a painting by Edward Hicks, “The Peaceable Kingdom,” in which lions and sheep, tigers and oxen rest together on a soft green hillside, with children playing happily before them.

In the image, it appears that despite this prime opportunity for predators to attack, as is their natural instinct, they have set aside the impulse for some greater good.

Will holding such an unlikely image in my mind become a first step to believing a peaceful world can really exist?

I decided it was worth a try. And that’s how I came to see the next step as possible – carving out a niche of harmony close to home.

While members of the West Raleigh community celebrate our spiritual connection, we also are physical beings occupying a specific place and time. As we strive to be examples of Christ in the world, it’s not enough to be at peace with one another inside the sanctuary walls (even if that could be achieved 100 percent of the time!).

The love and grace of God are multiplied when they are shared, and that’s why I am so excited about plans to enhance the corner of Vanderbilt ant Horne through renovation of our courtyard and creation of a Beeloved Community Garden.

I view these as spaces where we will welcome people in and outside of our congregation to gather in a gracious setting, to celebrate good times, to seek solace in times of grief, to enjoy and give back a bit to the natural world that has supported us for generations.

While these projects admittedly won’t bring conflicts to a halt around the globe, we’ll be creating a place where serenity and happiness at least have a seat at the table and space to nurture hope for a more peaceful future.

Prayer: Dear God, you are a source of hope and continuous blessing in a world that often does not fully recognize your generous love and infinite sacrifices. Help us to envision the goodness that exits within us and throughout your kingdom, as we are all made in your image. Fill us with your spirit so that we can overcome doubt, deflect hate and resist the temptation to meet aggression with more aggression. We thank you and offer you highest praise.

Act: This week, identify and focus your conscious awareness on places where goodness and peacefulness exist. Each day, try to expand that peaceful energy by acting or speaking in ways that promote connection, understanding, or that reduces potential conflict at home, at work, or in your community.

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