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Embracing the ‘Holy Saturday’ phase of the pandemic

 

What dreams are waiting to be resurrected?

By Donna Frischknecht Jackson | Presbyterians Today

an assortment of fresh vegetables on a wooden table

Markus Spiske/Unsplash

We are in the phase of the pandemic that I call the “Holy Saturday” phase — that day before Easter’s resurrection celebration that is shadowed with the lingering grief of yesterdays gone by and the uneasiness of a still uncertain future. It’s a phase in which through our mourning we start finding the courage to honestly answer the question, “What have we learned in a year of pandemic living?” Our answers might be the very thing that help us step into resurrection’s new day.

For me, I learned never to take toilet tissue for granted. I learned that if the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast and my attempts at breadmaking will fail miserably. I learned that if I want a garden this year, I need to order seeds early because the gardening trend of 2020 shows no signs of abating as people continue to seek healing in the soil for their anxious souls. Yes, seed shortages were right up there with toilet tissue and flour. But mostly — and more importantly — a year of pandemic living has taught me to stop ignoring my dreams all because they might require too much work or seem impossible to achieve. Nothing is impossible with God, right? I mean, really, aren’t we called to be resurrection people?

Honoring my dreams is what led to the incredulous question my husband asked me the other day: And what exactly do you plan on doing with all these seeds? It was a fair question as I opened the box UPS had delivered and rifled through packets labeled parsnips, turnips, beets, broccoli, corn, pumpkins, cucumbers, butternut squash, peas, onions and much more. There were also herbs mingling with the vegetable seeds, along with a few pollinator-friendly flowers to keep the bees happy and healthy. It was perhaps too much for just my husband and me to consume, too much for my little garden of raised beds to accommodate, and too much watering and weeding than I had time for. “Open a roadside farm stand?” I answered half-jokingly, with the emphasis on “half.”

Ever since I was a girl growing up in a New Jersey suburb across the river from Manhattan, I had dreamt of owning a farm. Childhood dreams, though, have a way of fading with the passing years. But when my first call was to a rural church in upstate New York, which then led me to owning five acres in Vermont, that dream in my heart began beating again. It would be a lot of sweat equity to plant all these seeds. My raised garden beds wouldn’t be sufficient. I would need to till new plots of land, which wouldn’t be easy in soil that was riddled with rocks. “You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into,” my husband said softly, shaking his head.

He’s right. I don’t fully understand the huge undertaking it will be to create my farm, but do I really want to walk away from my dream? Especially a dormant dream that is awakening with a slew of bright possibilities for this pastor to minister to others in ways beyond the confines of a traditional church call?

Ministry possibilities include sharing my bounty with neighbors whose creaking knees prevent them from growing healthy food. There’s an old general store being turned into a community center in my little hamlet. On the refurbished porch I can envision baskets of veggies free for the taking. Herbs could be dried and made into tea and packaged for the old saints of my community who have always been generous in sharing a cup of friendship. Flowers can be arranged into bouquets, tied with a ribbon and a hangtag that reads: “Beautiful blessings from Old Stone Well Farm.” Yes, “Old Stone Well Farm” is the name of my fledgling farm, which does indeed have an old stone well. I can see it now: ministry right where God has planted me and, with hard work, perseverance and a lot of prayer, ministry that will bloom in a new way beyond a Sunday morning gathered in a building.

What have we learned in a year of pandemic living is a question we need to ask ourselves as well as our congregations, because the answers might reveal dormant dreams that have begun to reawaken. Will we know exactly what we are getting into if we dare to live out those dreams? Probably not. But that’s OK. What we do know is God, who brings to life what was once dead, is with us. Imagine how your resurrected dream might change the world. 

Donna Frischknecht Jackson is editor of Presbyterians Today. The rototiller needed to start tilling all the new ministry possibilities she is dreaming of is currently on backorder.

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