I want to tell you about our awesome time in Frostburg, MD; sharing in community with Jon Felton and his kinfolk at the Savage River Farm. And, I will tell you of all the practical ways we shared during our time with these friends, but first I need to get out a few poetic musings about community. For, as we travel, we are continually blown away and encouraged by the ways we are “put together” with others.
So, if you’ll bare with me…
Blessed be the tie that binds… There is a beautiful community out there, hidden yet available, woven together with a tie that binds our hearts in love. The deepest love possible, the love of One who would lay down his life, lay down his life for every tongue, tribe or creed. This love is unfaltering, secure and safe. It is a tie that brings freedom, not bondage. For this gift, we are thankful.
The tie allows for the flow of life to transpire, like that of the interdependent relationship of vine and branch. We stay close to the source waiting with anticipation for opportunities to be united with kinfolk, in order to exchange the witness of our creators goodness, faithfulness and grace; slow to anger, quick to love. When these moments happen, we are filled with such amazement and joy, and our cup runs over.
Honestly, I could geek out about community all day. None the less, our cup surely did run over in Frostburg, MD and continued on through Harrisburg, PA, Shepherdstown, WV and Philadelphia.
We’ll start with Frostburg. Our host was Jon & Leslie Felton, who we had know about for years. Many of our friends, spoke of this “Jon Felton” and when we were coming through this area, we knew we needed to spend time with his family. So, we reached out and his response was welcoming and encouraging. He invited us into his community, linking us up with friends at Savage River Farms as a place to park our bus and neighbor alongside for the week.
We arrived on a sunny afternoon and settled into our field at the farm (which later we had quite the adventure getting stuck and unstuck). We sat down with Ben and Hana, the owners, and came up with a plan that allowed us to learn, serve and share in community with them.
The fella’s got busy in the fields, replanting and pulling weeds. It was fun to see our bus rider, Chris, get his hands in the dirt for the first time, soaking in the goodness of growing food. The guys also learned about how shiitake mushrooms are grown, including holes drilled into logs, a spore paste lathered into the holes and once in that position, a solid years of rest. Then, moving the logs to a water source where they soaked for 24 hours, were stacked like lincoln logs, covered and with in the next few days, mushrooms began to burst forth!
Meanwhile, Graciana and I spend most of our time in the farmhouse kitchen, making meals for the crew. The farm, about three years old, offered much to do, and with the longer summer days, the crew was making hast to get things done. Needless to say, meals seemed to be the last thing on anyones mind. So, it was natural to offer this gift. Plus there was nothing more pleasing that seeing the smiles on folks faces after they enjoyed a meal, refreshed and ready for more hard work. We also helped Hana with the Farmers Market, setting up, selling, meeting town locals, and packing up.
Mid-week, we went to the school that Ben and Jon taught at and we shared our merrymaking, encouraging the youth in identity, reconciliation and moving towards a life that is filled with joy and love.
Later, we spent a little time in Jon’s studio laying down gang vocals for fellow creative, Mark Van Steenwyks book, Wolf at the Gate.
At the end of the week, we moved the bus to downtown Frostburg, city of about 8,075 residence and home to Frostburg State University. We hit the area just after school let out, so got more of the local feel for the place. We learned that Frostburg was originally called Mount Pleasant until 1820, when the government developed a postal service, and the town was renamed Frostburg. We also learned that the town was one of the first cities on the “National Road,” US 40. But most of all we learned about Jon & Leslie Felton and their love for their family and community. We learned about Jon’s involvement in a traveling arts carnival, “demonstration village” experiment, and education and social outreach project, call Carnival de Resistance. We also met many of his kinfolk and one evening we all shared a foraged meal sourced and served up by local chef, Horvey.
At the end of the week, we shared in song at Dante’s Bar, a local establishment on the main drag. We opened the night with a song circle, then a Holland’s set and Jon’s band, Soulmobile finished out the evening with a rollicking set of originals! That night we met, fellow band mate, Jake Compton, who invited us to his hometown of Harrisburg, PA. So, we exchanged info and set a date!
As our week came to an end, we took a moment to soak it all in, the goodness that comes when we engage in community, entering into that interdependent relationship, and caring for one another. We are thankful for moments like these where we are woven together with kinfolk in ways we never dreamed possible. We are forever bound to these friends and look forward to the day we get to roll back to through.