Kingdom come is coming, in small yet invasive ways...

Follow along with us as each week we meet for service to those in our neighborhood, common meals, study of Jesus' teachings and how to live them, as well as Sabbath worship at the Buffalo Vineyard City Church .

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Maple Sugarin'

Liquid gold
In Syracuse we had four large sugar maples that grew in our backyard, just enough for making a couple gallons of syrup each spring.  Maple sugarin' is one of the things that I'd dearly missed about our time in Syracuse.  Each March we made plenty of syrup at Baltimore Woods Nature Center, and I also did demonstrations in my backyard and in city parks for city school students.  Faith was just getting old enough to understand some of what was going on the last time we made syrup in Syracuse.  I had always hoped that maple sugarin' would be a springtime Kauffman family tradition.

I've found it true that what we give up to follow God's call on our life is often given back to us in abundance.  So after two springs with little or no maple sugarin' this year I was given the amazing gift of being able to do more than I'd ever done before.  

Sugarbush set up - 19 taps, 180 gal. of sap, yield: 4 gal. syrup 
Tom Treharne has generously given the use of his land in S. Wales, NY, which he calls "Narnia", to be used for farming and educational purposes for folks in the city of Buffalo.  He sees all he's been given as a gift from God to be shared with others.  He's given up control over some of what is "his" realizing that the blessings that will be given back in return will far out weigh what he's given up.  And in just this one month I've seen Tom's gift multiply over and over, giving so much to so many.  

Suckin' down the sap!
I can't fully express my gratitude for what our family has been given.  First, we have a stash of syrup stored up for the year, but more importantly my children were given the amazing gift of being able to spend whole days with me in the woods.  Woodpeckers overhead drumming, bluebirds surrounding us with their serenades, white-tailed deer dancing across the field.  On warmer days, while the sap boiled away, we would steal away down to the stream to find stoneflies and water striders or play with clay from the banks.  

For my kids growing up in the city, days spent like this are so precious.  I grew up in the middle of a sprawling suburban development, but thanks to my dad, trips to the woods and streams were a very regular part of my childhood.  What those experiences have taught me and have given me is priceless.  This spring I was able to give a little bit of that to my children.

But the blessings go beyond just my family.  We also took four trips down to the sugarbush with kids from the House of Grace after school program.  Kids that rarely leave their neighborhood got to experience a whole new world, and gain a connection to the land and the ways it sustains us.  

Thirty students from Jessica's school (Tapestry Charter School) also came and spent two nights camped out on the property.  This trip also happened to be right in the middle of the 80 degree weather we had this March (which unfortunately brought maple sugarin' season to a screeching halt less than halfway through the month), so the kid's and I pitched a tent and spent a night camped out in the sugarbush.  All this nice weather mixed with the shelter building, clay face painting, adventure games, camp dinners cooked over the fire, plenty of marshmallows, and star gazing, gave the week the feel of summer camp.  This too was an amazing gift, allowing me to use my passion and years of experience as an outdoor educator to share with Jess' middle school students. 

Tapestry students help filter the finished syrup
All said and done we made almost four gallons of pure maple syrup, which even gave us some to sell.  With each pint I sell this story of generosity is retold, and the giving goes on and on...    

Generosity does this, one gift given becomes two, then four, then more and more.  The miracle of multiplication happens when we simply share what we've already been given.  May we all experience the gifts God has for us when we give our stuff and ourselves away.

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