For many, city life is about the noisy streets alive with people, exhaust, businesses, and an ever present hum that keeps time, even through the quietest of nights. I found all these things to be true about Buffalo when I first moved here. Alive with excitement of exploring a new place, I joined right in the hustle and grit of Buffalo culture and found fantastic people and places that satisfied my cravings for adventure. As I questioned new friends, and even strangers, about their city, I noticed not one uttered any words pertaining to beauty present in their community. I would wait patiently until they exhausted all frustrations, and then gently share about a unique piece of their city that is small, quiet, and unwearyingly awaits to bless others with it’s beauty.
For me that beauty lives no more than a block away, and I have been blessed to spend many hours wandering and working amongst it’s gentle reminder of some of God’s greatest gifts to us. 5 Loaves Farm is a place of redemption for Buffalo’s West Side vacant city lots. We seek to produce healthy food, along with spiritual, educational, & economic resources for our neighbors. For me, it also beams with beauty in our community.
We recently re-worked one of our gardens into a herbal tea spiral for the use of varying dried tea combinations. I know this doesn’t sound like much, but the garden contains quite a bit of symbolism about beauty through the art of drinking tea, while also expanding the variety of items the farm can offer.
Traditional Japanese Tea ceremonies, also called the ‘Way of Tea’, aim for the attainment of deep spiritual connection through silent contemplation and tea drinking.
One of the most important aspects of the ceremony are the drinking vessels themselves. In the mid-sixteenth century, a shift occurred in the traditional styled ceramics and a new aesthetic known as ‘Wabi’ exemplified an appreciation of beauty through unrefined, natural, or imperfect ceramics. The host will choose one tea cup for all to drink from. As the tea is passed from one participant to the next, it is admired by each for it’s beauty and then carefully passed along with the admired side facing toward those receiving it.
Our new garden is constructed mimicking the shape of a tea cup, in which its beauty of flowering herbs are placed outward toward the community. The hope in this design is that it would remind each of us, unrefined and imperfect beings, of the beauty within ourselves. It would inspire us to pass that beauty toward others, while also developing an appreciation in us for things that are simple and natural. The beauty in Buffalo is overflowing and we hope that 5 Loaves Farm can be one small reminder of God’s beautiful creation, not only in the natural world, but within his created beings as well.
Flowers don’t have to try to be beautiful, they just are.
You don’t have to try to be beautiful, you just are!