Friday, August 17, 2018

Spinning and Telling: Symbols of a Beginning, Part Two

Ruins, for me, are the beginning.
With the debris, you can construct new ideas.
They are the symbols of a beginning.
-Anselm Kiefer

Ruins. Debris. Call it what you will, but these last few years, my life - my home, my plans - were a wrecked mess. They were unmade.

Each day, all day, I yearned for one thing: life. Color. Movement. I longed for anything that showed me promise of growth or renewal or that stubbornness to live ... that unyielding, seek-the-sun-reality our Creator bred into nature. I clung to realities such as Seeds have to be buried to grow, and What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly. Things like that. Whatever. It helped.

But from that season while I was away from you, friend, ideas were born. Then they grew into a dream. And then that dream had a name and a purpose and a life of its own. I officially started Balm and Honey Farm.
It began with the bees. With honey. Then it morphed into a small market farm with an active CSA program and weekly farmer's market. It took off so quickly I didn't have time to think. Or breathe. One minute it was an idea, and the next I was delivering crates of food to beloved customers. (That's how it seemed, anyway.) That first picture up there? That was my first season at market. The picture just above was the second season. And this here? This is one of the weekly CSA shares that soon followed:

 I loved every minute of farming. All of it. The challenges, the growth, the pressure, the living on a prayer. God used the work to busy and sustain me. The food was just bonus. 

But man, was it a bonus!

The vegetables and flowers and honey were fantastic, but I couldn't just leave those old henrybella's recipes in the past, either. (Remember that old bakery?) Some of those old favorites came out and were featured at market, too: the Country Bread..

... and Honey Cinnamon Rolls...

 ... and it was good. It was fun. In the midst of a death of a marriage and the loss of my home, a purpose and a vision were exploding into life. And strangely, all those small and seemingly disparate hobbies and interests and tragedies and setbacks throughout my life were coming together into a cohesive objective: to nourish, to house, to live simply and work with my hands, and to make lives better.

All along, He was doing the same to me. And He wasn't done there.

This past May, I had coffee with a childhood acquaintance who wanted to pick my brain about farming. He wanted to start a residential and occupational place, he said, for the disabled in our community. As a teacher and attendant for people with disabilities, he had watched too many times as his precious, misunderstood, undervalued students and clients were shuffled into homes or lost in the system, simply because they didn't have a place or a purpose. My heart burned as we talked and realized we had been carrying the same vision: to farm, and to house people there who had challenges, or at-risk behavior, or recently survived life situations like we had.

Then that dream got a name, and this new adventure swept onto the scene. We're calling it The ROCK Collective, and it's an emerging non-profit that seeks to provide homes and jobs and dignity to the overlooked and underserved in our community. We're starting a tiny home community in a farm setting. Balm and Honey Farm will merge into this mission. I can't wait to take you along for adventure. I can't wait to welcome you out to the place. 

Yes, ruins, debris... call them what you will. But from them, my life - my home, my plans - are being remade.

Symbols of a beginning.

Have a great weekend and we'll talk again soon. -Brin

Oh! You can follow the farm @balmandhoney on Instagram or Balm and Honey Farm on Facebook. Also, check out the new project on Facebook by searching: The Rock Collective or clicking here. Website is coming soon!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Spinning and Telling, Part One

You mustn't live so lightly.
Spin your stories, tale your tales,
Let them dance across the oceans
And set the wind upon your sails.
For every truth found on your travels
And in the pits of your despair,
Is a shout into forever
Of "I existed", and "I cared".
- Erin Hanson / The Poet Underground

I've been living lightly these past months (turned year). Sometimes sleeping, sometimes not. Sometimes eating, sometimes not. Sometimes feeling free, then later that day: captive. I've blinked. I've cried. I've wandered. I've been paralyzed. I've sat at the edge of the dancing ocean, tentative, and then I've plunged in so deep I didn't know if I'd make it out. But through it all, I've kept breathing. I exist, after all. And I care.

This absence, friend, is simply explained like this: I married a textbook cerebral narcissist, and the week of Christmas in 2017, he (blessedly, overwhelmingly, tragically, thankfully) filed for divorce, changed the locks to my beloved house, and left me on the porch with... almost nothing. And it was impossible - I'm telling you, it was impossible - to narrate someone through that story when I couldn't even read the lines myself. 

But I'm better now. I am better now. And the pages of these past years are telling tales now. And lately, I feel a wind upon my sails whispering me back to all the familiar and beloved places. Including here. Especially here.

Welcome back, dear one. I'm glad to see you again. Let's talk and I'll catch you up. -Brin