Julia has finished her first week at VEJ. Here are her reflections:
Walking into the gardens on a bright morning, I found a place of wonder. The sky-scraping trees in the backyard, raised beds with growing vegetables, and a house full of art supplies and gardening materials sang sweet songs to my heart. It was love at first sight.
The gardens, Hope House, and backyard sparked memories of places that have previously touched and changed my heart. Further, the people that I have met have expressed generosity and hospitality that reminds me so much of some friends of mine in Salyersville, Kentucky. In both places, I have been welcomed, even as a stranger and an outsider. In both places, stories are thick with layers. In both places, people have graced me with the gift and opportunity to share time with them.
On my first day at VEJ, I met Abdul, a neighbor a few doors down. He had stopped over to say hello, and ended up fixing the stereo that I was tinkering with to listen to some tunes. His children pattering in the door behind him, peeked at me with curiosity. The warmth in the words and in the fixing of the stereo was tremendous. Abdul and his family made me feel welcome. These neighbors have a wisdom that I can learn from—and it is clear they possess a genuine connection to this place.
This sacred space is magical because of those that live and work here. This place has a story—a story rooted in the work of Adrian Dominican Sisters, supportive friends, and kind neighbors. As I have been settling into my work, I have sifted through the history of VEJ, housed in a large stack of binders, and I have heard stories about many of my predecessors’ endeavors. It is clear that there has been much work and many relationships built previous to my presence at VEJ. I see all of my future work as that which is built upon the foundation of those who have come before me. I am so excited to be a part of such a relationally rich story. I have already seen and felt that this place draws people to it and that it is transformative.
While there are weeds to pull, cleaning to be done, and plenty of upkeep and love needed, Voices for Earth Justice seems to have a spirit of holiness. This is a sacred place. This is holy ground. And I feel honored to be called to contribute to caring for it.