442 What are you growing this summer? How about … “A Child’s Garden”?

IT’S GOING TO BE A TOUGH SUMMER! Millions of Americans are shifting jobs, shifting plans, shifting homes. The word “staycation” has been around at least a half dozen years, but it’s rocketing upward again in popular culture.
    For example, media analysts are predicting a booming summer at movie theaters as millions of families decide to go see “Star Trek” instead of trekking to the Grand Canyon. That’s staycation.
    Paul and Holly Tocknell of Ohio just produced a helpful “staycation” Web site plus an e-book of family-oriented ideas. They explain: “Usually each
summer we like traveling to Florida for our summer vacation with our 2
young kids. However, with the current state of the economy, rising gas
and airline ticket prices, we have been enjoying staycations and
enjoying some of the local sites and attractions in our local area.

    It’s still early enough to think about planting a child’s garden—both literally and metaphorically. Tending to the beauty of your neighborhood can be a great way to meet other families. If it’s not practical where you live, organize an early-summer work day at the grounds around your house of worship. Or, call your congregation’s central office and ask if there’s someone who’s elderly or disabled who could use a hand.
    Aside from the literal gardening, though, Candlewick Press is giving us a beautiful, brand-new vision of gardening as a metaphor for nurturing world peace. It all starts one seed at a time, one vine at a time, one set of friends at a time. The book is called “A Child’s Garden: A Story of Hope,” by Michael Foreman.

    What I love about Foreman’s new picturebook is that it echoes conflict zones around the world. The little boy who begins the story in a dark, rubble-strewn hovel could be living in regions of eastern Europe now—or perhaps back during World War II. He could be living in the Middle East or in a Latin American conflict zone. It’s a startlingly beautiful fable that could be set many places around the world.
    The whole point in exploring the pages of “A Child’s Garden” is to see the black-white-and-gray hopelessness give way to the brilliant colors of vines, flowers, friends and eventually songbirds, too!
    As is the case with most Candlewick books, I think Foreman’s new story is just masquerading as a children’s book. I’d buy it for yourself, for good friends, for any children you know. Read it with anyone who cares about peace and needs a few colorful rays of hope in this ominous springtime of turbulent change.

    AND SPEAKING OF colorful rays of hope … CONGRATULATIONS to interfaith peace activist Daniel Buttry on receiving an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kansas, where he also addressed the graduating class about the need to become global peacemakers in our still-new century.
    Buttry is the global peace negotiator—a sort of worldwide activist and negotiator for peace—on behalf of American Baptist Churches. He has worked extensively in Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America. He’s also the author of the “Interfaith Heroes” series of books.
    In honoring Buttry, the following statement was issued: Buttry “has made a significant contribution in teaching and writing, as a pastor and through the church’s larger mission in Christian peacemaking.
    “Buttry has traveled globally in the pursuit of peace, justice and reconciliation through ministries of conflict transformation and education. He presented his commencement address based on 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, which talks on reconciliation. Speaking to the graduates and more than 400 guests, Buttry incorporated his much-used passport to cite samples of difficult situations worldwide and described Christian ministry: ‘You don’t have diplomatic
immunity as an Ambassador for Christ. You aren’t protected from the pains and troubles of the world. Rather you have diplomatic vulnerability.'”


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