This past Saturday was just one of those days. Not one of those days …bad. But one of those days…good, so good. And at the end of this oh-so-good day we plopped our exhausted bodies, full stomachs, reeling minds, and overflowing hearts in bed…satisfied…content…thankful…wondering why days like this didn’t happen more often.
So what amazing thing did we do this past Saturday? Although profound, what we did was actually quite simple – we loved somebody by helping them do something that they couldn’t easily do on their own. Something that would really only help them…at least on the surface. To put it in RYG terms, we redeemed the ground of someone else…a modern day version of an old-fashioned barn raising.
According to Wikipedia:
“A barn raising…describes a collective action of a community, in which a barn for one of the members is built or rebuilt collectively by members of the community. A barn was a necessary structure for any farmer, for example for storage of cereals and hay and keeping of animals. Yet a barn was also a large and costly structure, the assembly of which required more labor than a typical family could provide. Barn raising addressed the need by enlisting members of the community, unpaid, to assist in the building of their neighbors’ barns.”
Several months back a couple buddies and I got together at Waffle House to consider how we could more or less operationalize an idea that
each of us had come to independently. Both of the other two guys have huge hearts and mad gardening and handy-man skills. And then, as part of RYG, Britt and I have Redeem Their Ground…where we hope to encourage people to not only redeem their own ground at home, but consider redeeming the ground of someone else …believing that when you do you’d sow love & cultivate hope.
So at the end of our scattered, smothered, and covered meals at Waffle House, here were the 8 basic things that my buddies and I came up with to set out to do:
- Use our skills, resources, and availability to do something for someone else that they couldn’t do on their own…for one reason or another (e.g., time, finances, know-how, etc.) – focusing on their outdoor spaces.
- Provide an opportunity for guys to connect in the ways that guys connect…which, as all kinds of studies show, is by working alongside each other doing a task…vs. having a deep conversation over a cup of coffee.
- I know I’m stereotyping here…but there is some truth in this stereotype…at least there is for my buddies and me.
- And by the way, women are certainly more than welcome to join us…as long as they’re good with subjecting themselves to all the scratching and harassing and cajoling that goes on. And fortunately they have…and we’ve been more than happy to have them!
- Do all this in a way that’s sustainable and respects our own families’ time…which effectively means doing projects that can be knocked out in a day.
- Incorporate our wives and kids in a way that would encourage building community…with those of us working on the project, as well with those we’re doing the project for. This typically means that they’ll arrive midday to enter into whatever we’re doing, as well as prepare a celebratory meal of sorts…where we can feed our faces, kick back a bit, enjoy each other’s company, and rest in all that we’d accomplished that day.
- We also wanted to encourage whomever we do a project for to be a part of the next project(s) we do…the quintessential pay it forward.
- Lastly…although maybe a bit lofty and we’re not there yet…but we’d love to see others motivated to start their own Redeem Their Ground teams.
With all that back story…back to this past Saturday…what’d we do? Well, although we didn’t literally build a barn, what we did do was as life-giving, if only figuratively.
Dear friends of ours, Brandi and Kevin Wigley bought a house about 4 or 5 months ago. It’s a great house, but it needed a bit of work on the inside and a ton of work on the outside. Much of their time has been spent taking care of the inside, but the outside…particularly their back yard, was more than they could do on their own. Enter our Redeem Their Ground team.
A group of about 10 of us showed up at the crack of dawn…greeted by perky Brandi (who was beside herself with excitement), fresh coffee, and an assortment of Krispy Kreme donuts. Once the sun had been awake long enough, we entered into the abyss that they called their back yard…with machetes, weed whackers, shovels, hatchets, blowers, and a stump grinder…oh, and a match, because we had a ton to burn!
I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking, but by the end of the day the Wigley’s yard had been transformed on so many levels. Where once before you’d be risking your life to enter, was a space that offered life. Weeds, trash, an old Christmas tree, overgrown bushes and trees, and probably 2 cords of rotten wood had been replaced by paths, fire pits (yes…plural…like I said, we had a ton to burn), a tire swing, and open spaces . The once silent, dank air was now filled with laughter, conversation…oh, and a bit of smoke. Did I mention we did a good bit of burning?
Sure, the Wigley’s have big dreams for what else they want to do to beautify their outdoor spaces…but we’ve at least helped them take a step forward…a pretty big step.
We capped it all off with amazing BBQ (a la Kev’s Green Egg), an assortment of salads and covered dishes, some amazing desserts…and a few libations.
It really was one of those days…one of those truly amazing days.
So why doesn’t this kind of day happen more often. I’ll only suggest that it may be because in our whirlwind lives we tend to hold on very tightly to our time and our stuff…viewing people and what it takes to have true, meaningful relationships to be an inconvenience…a life drain. That’s what keeps me from doing it more regularly. But I’ll tell you…what we experienced in our small corner of the world this past Saturday was anything but that. All the time we spent, stuff we used, and effort we put forth were more than worth it. Practically, much was accomplished. But more than that, community was built…and people were loved. To me that stands in stark contrast to what many people experience in their controlled, self-sufficient, self-involved, and isolated lives.
But don’t take my word for it…do it yourself…take a risk…get some friends together and redeem the ground of someone else. I guarantee that you’ll experience something similar to what we did…and your life will be better for it…and so will the life of the person whose ground you redeemed.
(By the way, Kevin was central to our first Redeem Their Ground project we did earlier this summer…so we thought no better way to thank him than helping him redeem his yard. And I’d encourage you to check out all that he and Brandi have done inside their home on Brandi’s blog – Brandi Nell the Southern Belle…they really have a knack for making a house feel like a home.)
Take care friends,