Seven of us packed the green mini-van to full capacity and headed to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. We knew we would see Alpacas, we heard there were two rocking CSJs there, but beyond that we were left to wonder and wait. A few naps and several car games later, we arrived in Indiana and were greeted by Sister Mo and a loaf of pumpkin bread from Sister P.B.
The next morning, Alyssa and I had the task of weeding the potato field and covering the seedlings in hay to reduce the amount of weeds over the season. It frosted the evening before, and we witnessed resiliency and strength from the tiniest of sprouts. Some had lost their fight with the frost, but an overwhelming number had survived and were showing a healthy green stem under a brown-spotted leaf. A miracle. Awe-inspiring still were the rutabaga roots that had populated the same plot last year and survived the winter. These little plants had not been fostered by the gardeners, yet they grew–with support from the soil, rain, themselves and God they were actively growing. I couldn’t help being continually amazed as we worked.
Throughout the weekend, all seven of us had the chance to garden and to work with the Alpacas. Observing the great reverence the WVC staff has for the land, plants and animals under their care is incredible. Sister P.B. told me of illnesses that have befallen the Alpacas, and the compassion and empathy for the animals was palpable. Sister Mo when showing us the compost had great pride and admiration for the created dirt–the beautiful, black pile of dirt that would foster the growth of many more plants.
This is the beauty of the White Violet Center, and the lesson I have brought back with me–the created world is to be revered, loved, and protected, after all…this too is our dear neighbor.
To learn more about the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, visit their website.
–Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker & Justice Office Intern