Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Generations, Side By Side

One of the things I observe in our community is the role of grandparents as carers for their grandchildren. In part, this is necessary – and affordable - childcare where a single-parent is working, or where both parents are working at the same time to pay the mortgage and bills.

This is not so much a new phenomenon as a traditional phenomenon of the extended family that had been eroded by increased mobility - combined with a period of some generations, now gone, when a mortgage could be taken out on a single income - and is perhaps experiencing a renaissance due to economic necessity.

One of the things I observe in our churches is the segregation of different age groups.

One of the things I reflect may be both a missional opportunity and a healthy thing in its own right – in fact, these are one-and-the-same thing, because the mission of God is to see the restorative, life-in-its-fullness affirming kingdom of God break in to our communities – is the possibility of children and senior citizens working together.

My gut-feeling is that this would work best where the two very different generations share common concerns; and where, within those areas, the older generation has skills they can pass on.

Over many years, my dad has created a lovely garden at my parents’ home in Glasgow. On a visit to us in Liverpool in the autumn, dad and Elijah (3yrs) planted bulbs in troughs in our garden – bulbs that are now shoots.

That is a small act. But it has me thinking about what might grow - from that; from watching a grandfather and grandson work side-by-side in the school wildlife garden last weekend; from the rise in green issues on both children’s and mainstream television; from an under-used church allotment, that might not be in the best location...

I wonder what it might take to create a community garden, in which both flowers and vegetables were grown, and in which different generations worked side-by-side? And I wonder what, other than flowers and vegetables, might blossom in such a space...?

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