Something interesting happened with our first Holy Family Churchyard Harvest Festival…
Late last summer we decided to have a festival on the Holy Family church grounds which would feature New Americans who are gardeners in our new Holy Family Churchyard Community garden. Soon that expanded to include other New Americans and others who are starting up little businesses as food vendors, farmers’ market vendors, and artists. We recruited some cool musicians. We hoped the New Americans and our musical groups would bring their own followings and we might have hundreds of visitors.
Despite the short planning time, feeling inspired, we gathered some good Vincentian workers and got busy, especially in refreshing the grounds and garden. We found tables, chairs, canopies, bottles of water, toys for kids, we invited the inHEIRitance project to perform, and other agencies. We always intended that the homeless would feel welcome, that comes with being located at Holy Family and living our faith. We knew that they couldn’t afford to buy anything but we hoped they would enjoy the music and atmosphere. But, at the last minute, Marty brought it up again and some of our Board members decided to underwrite free food tickets for the homeless. We wanted to welcome them and to be sure that the food vendors – all start-up businesses, mostly from northeast Omaha – would earn enough to make a profit.
It was a beautiful day, the grounds and set up were perfect. As it happens, we had not so many of our hoped for guests after all. But, guess what?… The homeless had a great day and our start up food vendors did, too…. We served wonderful meals, desserts and snow cones to about 200 homeless! No one was turned away.
We consider the day a success. It wasn’t our original vision for it, necessarily, but we are so happy that the folks normally on the outside looking in were “in” at this little festival. As it should be. As it was surely meant to be. The Holy Spirit at work, perhaps?
And as we look back on it, it seems the “Parable of the Wedding Feast” may be an appropriate reflection for this first Churchyard Harvest Festival. The invited guests had other plans, the poor were welcomed. With God’s grace, may we always be welcoming.