This past month of Act Five has been full of good ordinary work. Our students have been baking bread, gardening, grocery shopping, waking up for daily morning prayer, hosting neighbours for pumpkin carving and spaghetti dinners, along with beginning to craft a Rule of Life.
Furthermore, our students, staff and residents are walking the beautiful (and narrow) road of becoming a community together and of extending this community’s gaze outward – to the neighbourhood and among those marginalized in our city. This work does not happen fast but through daily ordinary time: learning, listening and practicing a life of grace together, with Christ as our guide and the winds of the Spirit flowing through and around us.
I am currently writing (this post is coming a few days later) from the kitchen of Lamppost Farm, a place of inspiration and community in Columbiana, Ohio. Led by Steve and Mel Montgomery, Lamppost seeks to learn from and renew fulsome relationships with the land – exploring the dynamic ways in which true agriculture can follow the rhythms of creation that have been instilled at every level with the relational character of God – from organism to ecosystem to our human economy. Our students and staff have spent a weekend moving turkeys, feeding chickens, harvesting gardens, milking cows, and pressing fresh apple cider. This, we’ve experienced, is good work for the body and soul.
Lamppost Farm is named after the Lamppost from the Chronicles of Narnia, this important first marker of C.S. Lewis that indicated you’ve entered the magical world of Narnia. Similarly, as you step on the ground here at Lamppost you feel as though you have walked into a new world.
Steve can forever talk about all he continues to learn as he digs into the relationships at play here – between cow, sheep, grass, soil and seasons as some of many examples – and the witness this is to our Creator. Seeing our students catch some of this vision is awesome, not so we can all become farmers but because we can all become people who imagine and long for more, for God’s Kingdom to come on earth in abundantly creative ways.
Here are some reflections from our students as we spend these days on a farm, away from life in the city:
“Something that really stuck with me was how Steve taught us that everything is in relationship. And that those relationships are the bedrock for everything that happens in the whole world. People and animals and plants and soil all share these relationships and it is for the benefit of all of us that these relationships happen in the right way.” – Emma
“We got to press fresh apple cider from the apples we picked. I don’t know what kind of apples they were, but I was surprised how many wasps there were in late October! There were wasps everywhere.” – Evan
“Obviously I loved the apple cider we made fresh. It was super cool to see that process. My favourite part though was for sure when Steve read us part of the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that first night around the fire. It was super fun to follow along, and then see how Steve connected it to the work they do on the farm.” – Ryan
“This might sound weird, but the most mind-blowing thing I learned is that when cows poop the final drop, it is designed to create a funnel in the pile that collects water into it and helps the soil be healthy and plants grow! Even that, in relationship with the soil, has a bigger purpose. It was crazy.” – Naomi
Lamppost Farm is a place that extends from a rich imagination for the kingdom of God, and a big vision for the possibilities of our participation with God in renewing the created world. This good ordinary work is what we long for in ourselves, our students, and our communities.
We want to do more of this at Act Five – more learning, growing, and imagining with other faithful labourers in the community of God. We sense that Act Five is being invited to grow and go deeper in our work, and we can’t do this without resources. Will you partner with us to keep us going and growing? We appreciate any and all financial support. Consider donating a one-time or monthly financial gift.
Applications are open to join the 2024-2025 cohort! Apply now or spread the word to someone you know!