A sprout is full of vigor and life. All of its life, DNA, and energy supply burst forth in water and darkness. All of the fertility a sprout needs is the scent of water. It does not need fertilizer, for it contains all necessary nutrients within the seed to begin its life. It starts with fragile, deep green leaves, the cotyledons. Tender and fresh, it begins to push forth first true leaves and an ultimate pattern.
The sprout is sensitive to temperature, moisture, light, and disturbance, yet full of nutrient density and tender taste, susceptible to all outside influences and threats. It rejoices in life yet can be destroyed in an instant. Desired by all, it is succulent, delicate, and decadent, unable to survive life on its own without a community working with and for it.
A deep-rooted biological community is needed for rich growth. The sprout needs soil and soil life to thrive. Its nutrients become depleted as the seed comes to life, and in turn becomes dependent upon its roots to grow deep, extending downward and outward.
A sprout is mysterious, exciting, fragile, and bursting with energy. But without community life and soil depth it will yellow and fade.
A sprout is the beginning of life, yet only through a diverse economy of soil life will it thrive and become a tree where many find shade, enjoy the bounty of its fruit, and bask in awe at the beauty of its life and splendor.
A sprout rooted in soil plus water gives way to photosynthesis and continued growth. The end of the seed is only the beginning, bearing way to new life for generations to come. A sprout seems to be independent, yet its life is dependent upon the generations that have come before it and the present community to hold its fecundity.
The sprout experiences its creation, but soon comes to learn of the world’s dangers; it begins to sink its roots deep, withstanding the many outside influences seeking to destroy it. Only the sprout that endures to the end will bear fruit, sprouts yet to come. The glory of a sprout is accepting its end, which, in turn, yields seed for generations to come.
In life there are no guarantees, no safe risks, and no foolproof successes. Yet there is hope; at the scent of water a stump will sprout again. The sprout of something new that gives hope for a life that will endure beyond our fleeting present.
Invisible made visible, like carbon from air into a plant, the sprout of Christmas, joyful, hopeful, yet humble, in a livestock trough, eternal life giving into a world that will sprout again.
I (Jonathan) want to tell you a story. I have no pictures, not even a name to give, but I want to tell you about one individual, ‘E’, at the Patrick J. Thomas Juvenile Justice Center (JJC).
There are 3 unique areas at the JJC. First, there is the SCEP school (Sarpy County Education Program) for juveniles expelled from school. It is a last resort for teens who can’t be in regular school and is run by our local school district. Second, there is the Day Reporting Center (DRC) for juveniles who are suspended from school, a place for court-ordered help for schoolwork, and probation. Lastly, there is Holdover, where the real juvenile offenders are placed. Teens in Holdover have been there for up to 4 months. Many are awaiting their court date or placement in a home for boys or girls. Offenses from these teens range from armed robbery to auto theft to violent offenses.
Holdover is where I first met ‘E’, who has been locked up for 4 months. When we first encountered ‘E’ he was constantly getting in fights, calling others names, and being very disrespectful to the guards.
For the first few months we mostly taught and discussed soil and regenerative agricultural
design principles. (They always want to talk about mushrooms, lol) As the harvest season
drew to a close, we began focusing our energy in the kitchen, bringing the food from the
gardens and making nutritious meals alongside the Holdover teens. The most incredible thing
is that the detainees’ engagement went from less than 50% to 100% instantly!
For the past month, we have been talking with the youth about what it means to be forgiven, forgiving, and free, using curriculum from a local ministry called Fresh Start. We are focused on seeing hearts healed and restored. At first, ‘E’ said, “Farmer Jon! What is this? You were teaching us about farming, now you are talking about God?” Life is all about relationship, both vertical and horizontal. ‘E’ thought I was crazy; he told me so, more than once. But after months of investing in relationship, where is ‘E’ now? He is on the honor roll and ready to be placed in a home for boys, only a week away from being released. He has also recommitted his life to Jesus and is reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.
So many in the JJC have been impacted by the work of Keipos, including students, detainees, and guards. Truthfully, I am the one that has been impacted the most. I am thankful to meet people like ‘E’ who make it all worth it, reminding me, “It is never too late for a fresh start!”