Reading Soil and Sacrament by Fred Bahnson was one of my first steps toward a more nuanced understanding and formation of life together. It is a memoir that explores a theology of permaculture and the author records his visits to four faith communities-Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal and Jewish- to understand the joinery of the sacred and the secular. I think one of his most interesting observations are made about marginal spaces: “Edge is not so much a place as it is a heightened transfer of energy that happens in the meeting of two distinct entities: field and forest, ocean and estuary, scrub and grassland. These interstitial zones between ecosystems are where the greatest exchanges of life happen.”
It reminds me of Davide Monteleone’s portraits for TIME Magazine last year. The subjects of this portrait are positioned on the cover of the magazine so that a significant part of the image is cropped from view. You find yourself staring at this marginal space. Bahnson’s emphasis on these marginal areas of topographic and interpersonal space make a poignant impression.
I was introduced to the book while working with the author’s extended family one summer, and met him briefly, while delving out 50 pans of handmade cinnamon rolls to campers in a sun-soaked corner of Fairview, NC, at the family homestead of Hickory Nut Gap Farm. On Sugar Hollow Road every summer, Susie Hamilton hosted the most fabulous camp you can imagine which involved (among other things) each camper making, from scratch, their own pan of cinnamony, sugary delights.
There was something about seeing and understanding this author’s lived experience that made his reflection more meaningful to me and I hope we will be able to offer this to one another during our time together.