Sweet People, Sweet Potatoes: Multi-Faith Friends Do the Dirty Work
by Thomas Davis
Last spring, I had the privilege of facilitating the launch of a group we would later begin calling "Multi-Faith Friends for the Common Good." On March 11, three Jews, four Muslims, and five Christians met in the library at Apex Mosque with two chief goals. One, we wanted to have a go at building genuine, authentic friendship with one another across the obvious cultural and ideological divides, which were perceived to be vast. And two, we wanted to see if, in the context of these new friendships, we could find a way to work together for the good of our community.
I am DELIGHTED to say that it has worked. In our little band, we have an oncologist, a pastor, a retired university professor, a stay-at-home mom, a carpenter, a computer engineer, and so on. The point is that we are diverse, and not just in terms of culture and faith. As different as we are, we have continued meeting regularly since March to share our stories, to learn about one another's faith perspectives, and to do community service projects together. We have met in the mosque, in the synagogue, in a church building. We have laughed together--a lot--and we have shed tears together as well. We really, genuinely like one another, and this is a beautiful thing.
A few months ago, our community service took a turn toward gardening. For each of the last three months, we have spent an afternoon harvesting produce at a non-profit community garden, with all the produce being donated to the North Carolina Food Bank. This has proven to be extra sweet fellowship for us all, and now we are dreaming about starting our own garden, which perhaps we would call a Peace Garden. To say the least, I am absolutely thrilled to report that the roots of our multi-faith friendships are growing ever deeper!
After our most recent work day, the garden director informed us that our group picked enough sweet potatoes to feed nearly 2000 people! I will share some photos from this harvest below.
You may also notice a Sikh couple in the photos. They are leaders at the local Sikh temple, and after the recent attack on Sikhs in Wisconsin resulting in seven deaths, our group reached out to the Sikh community here to offer condolences, encouragement, and support. We invited them to be our special guests at the sweet potato harvest day, and to our delight this couple joined us.