In October, I found myself walking the perimeter of The Land alongside Iliff School of Theology’s President, Rev. Dr. Thomas Wolfe, and Rev. Dr. Boyung Lee, Iliff’s Dean of the Faculty.
As we stood in the middle of this barren 9.7 acres I began to paint a picture of a community gathering together around faith, food, and farming; a 2-acre edible labyrinth where people gather to grow food for their neighbors in need, an outdoor amphitheater for community concerts and educational events, hundreds of fruit and nut trees to harvest, a farm stand to distribute the food we grow, and one day, a cathedral greenhouse to provide an indoor, multifunctional space to grow food and gather together. Each element the integration of agricultural practice and spiritual ritual. A recipe intentionally written for a community seeking to rediscover what discipleship means in the 21st century.
It’s a vision I have painted many times to many people over the last six months standing in that same place; to a horticultural professor from CSU and to the Executive Director of the Sand Creek Greenway, to staff from the Plains Conservation Center and to a District Superintendent from the Mountain Sky Conference of the United Methodist Church, to HOA Presidents and to City Planning Department officials, to a Channel 7 News Crew and to clergy friends from various denominations.
Each time I reach into my hearts pocket and pull out the seeds of a vision yet to be planted, I find myself opening my hand and holding my breath as I wait for a reaction. And then there’s a moment. Just beyond the abyss of the long pause, where a connection is made between the seeds in my hand and the cry of their heart. Always a unique and unpredictable, “Aha!” moment, where The Land comes alive for each listener and it all makes sense; why they are here, what we are doing…the promise present in the vision planted just beneath the ground that we stand on.
As the new year approaches it carries with it the “good news” that these seeds finally leave the safety of my pocket. For me, it’s an Advent journey of equal grief and excitement for what will be gained and what will be lost after this long wait. With the approval of our construction documents property grading and installation of our entry way and parking lot are being scheduled for this Spring. With the increase of funding, programming opportunities and administrative duties, my focus as a leader is shifting from friendship with a small group of visionaries to the loyalty of an expanding organization.
I expect that 2019 will be the year of a dream being lived with “feet on the ground.” And my pray is that even if your feet never find their way to stand next to mine at The Land, you know these seeds have been planted for you too. That whether it’s sharing a meal, farming in the field, or finding faith in the silence of a solitary sunset, The Land will always be a place where all can belong.
With hope for seeds pocketed and planted,
Rev. Stephanie Price
Pastor, The Land