by Katie Delp
Five years ago, we planted a peach tree next to our house. Each year it has produced a bountiful harvest, though I’ve spent the last few summers in a epic battle with the neighborhood squirrels for the fruit. But this year we outsmarted the squirrels, and my kitchen is overflowing with peaches!
I sent my son Sam and the kids who live across the street outside to pick peaches from the tree. They stretched and climbed and grabbed as many fruits as they could reach. Then, I sent them on their bikes to pick up flour and butter from the Carver Neighborhood Market, a few blocks away. I texted neighbors on our street: Warm peach cobbler and ice cream on our porch at 8!
Shortly after pulling the cobbler from the oven, our next door neighbor knocked on the door. We settled in on the porch, and more neighbors soon joined us. For the rest of the evening, we laughed together, enjoying the company and scooping up cobbler for the kids.
Our mission statement at FCS says we partner with under-served neighborhoods to provide innovative and holistic development that produces flourishing communities where God's Shalom is present. As a team, we often discuss what Shalom looks like in our neighborhood context. What does it mean to to work towards a South Atlanta filled with God’s peace and presence?
Shalom is a Hebrew word that’s been translated many ways into English: completeness, safety, health, prosperity, peace, contentment, restoration, and peace, to name a few. It’s a concept that stirs my soul. But what does shalom look like day-to-day?
For me, shalom looks like sticky fingers grabbing more folding chairs for late arrivals. It looks like fruit from the yard cooked with ingredients from around the corner at a business that employs people on the street. Shalom looks like a crowded porch, filled with longtime residents who’ve lived in South Atlanta their whole lives and new neighbors from other states and even other countries.
In the midst of the conversation, laughter, and requests for seconds, I was so aware of God’s presence and goodness. It was a living and breathing night of Shalom. Right there on the front porch. God is always present in our communities, but I give special thanks for the ways neighbors, organizations, and peaches can bring forth community and flourishing. And I’m thankful for the nights when Shalom tastes just like fresh peach cobbler.