At the mission’s Rochester campus, a large garden is planted every Spring that produces bushels upon bushels of food that is lovingly processed by our mission workers and volunteers in order that hungry people can be fed. I am always deeply amazed by the mysteries and miracles of a garden; how the soil can be properly prepared, furrows dug, seeds planted, and then the patient, watchful waiting for gentle rains, warm sunshine, germination, growth, blossoming, fruiting, and harvest. During the past several weeks, we’ve been harvesting and canning from time to time when we can break away from other work, and I have been astonished to see nearly 30 bushels of produce enter the kitchen from a patch of ground that just months ago was nothing more than fallow soil!
I think gardening is so meaningful to me because, beyond the food producing aspects of a vegetable garden, there is so much symbolism about life and faith, work and growth. In a way, all worthwhile enterprise is at least a little bit like gardening, and perhaps all of our lives are, as well.
The constructive building characteristics of Hosanna’s mission have continuously reminded me through the years of a garden’s cycles; how initiatives begin, how and in what ways growth occurs, the blossoming of effective effort into the results of work well done, the harvest-time as the seasons of collective souls change, and the important moments of reflection, preparation, the unending quest for better future methods when Winter comes to spread its white blanket over the restive ground.
For those who have dedicated themselves to God’s service through the mission’s work, we’ve often found ourselves contemplating the deep and various meanings of four cardinal values that we call “the 4 C’s” namely, Call, Charism, Compassion, and Community. I believe deeply in these values, and I think they are close to the heart of Hosanna Industries, but they are never easy to live out as they constantly challenge every one of us to rigorously pursue God’s will in our work.
God calls, but the divine call is never without consequence. When God calls a man or woman into some form of meaningful service, that call has a mysterious way of bearing heavily upon who we are, what we do, and why. In our changing and often self-centered world, I think that the thought of God’s call may be usually considered as a momentary, snapshot-like experience for the few overly-religious types out there in the human community, but I wonder if God’s call is actually something we all hear throughout all of our days like a beautiful song playing somewhere in the distance, too customary to stop and pay attention, too unnoticed to elicit obedience.
God gives all of us gifts, charisms, in abundance, but it is so easy to think that these resources are of our own fashioning, instead of the One from whom all blessings flow. Our personalities, our memories and histories, our greatest triumphs and deepest sorrows, our talents and special skills, our uniqueness as individuals all created in God’s same image, all these and so much more are gifts given to be employed in God’s service, and yet we tend to use these gifts, and misuse them, according to our own designs and directions rather than the Lord’s.
We live in a hurting world, and we ourselves are not at all impervious to injury and yet God’s Word instructs us to be compassionate toward others, always striving to set aside our own burdens and sufferings as we aim to remove these from the shoulders of others. Sometimes, it is easy to be compassionate, but though I have never found it easy to be always compassionate, I know in my heart of hearts that until and unless I do learn to be consistently compassionate, I’ll be standing as a stumbling block against God’s grace instead of serving as a bridge toward that grace.
Born as we are, usually as single individuals, we soon learn the lessons of walking and talking, thinking and being as though the meaning of life was contained in the small sphere of our private selves. The concept of community challenges us to consider an entirely different way of being. Community never degenerates the value of the individual person, but lifts the individual self into a higher form of living in which we think of others more highly than we think of ourselves, we discover our own personal value within the fabric of relatedness rather than alienation, and we learn that the best which life has to offer benefits the most instead of the least. Community can never really happen unless we are truly willing to sacrifice the sovereignty of self for the sake of others.
Call, Charism, Compassion, and Community, this is what we work with at the mission all the time, even as these issues work on us continuously through the influence of God’s Spirit. If Hosanna has a garden of the soul, these are the resources that make it grow. I cannot think of a better example than Jesus Christ, who dealt with and wrestled with the same ideas of Call, Charism, Compassion, and Community, and who in another garden called Gethsemane decided once and for all to discard His own private will in choosing the will of God which embraced the welfare of the whole world. It has been said that His apostles turned the world upside down. I think what made that possible, then, was the silent, solitary maneuver that Jesus employed in Gethsemane when He prayerfully turned upside down the “M” of “Me” into the “W” of “We”. That act may be the most important and life- saving work that any man or woman could ever do.
Soon, dear friend, the leaves will be turning, and the beauty of Autumn will be upon us. Much of the year’s work will be done. If Winter comes, there will be time for quiet reflection and rest as God’s garden lies fallow for a while. Peace to you in the days that lie ahead. Thank you for the very important things you do to keep the mission moving forward. Please pray for us, always. Get your favorite sweater ready, maybe take a walk through the soon-to-be falling leaves with a friend, light a fire, and remember, the difference between “Me” and “We” can make all the difference in the world.
-Rev. Dr. Donn Ed, Founder & Executive Director