Three simple words. So long since I have heard them.
“Hello Mrs. Lynch.”
The welcome comes from a produce stall at the North Atherton Farmers’ Market. It is my first visit. It’s on the other side of town. But the day is cold and grey, and our garden too wet to work in.
No one in State College calls me “Mrs. Lynch.” Here, I’m “Laurie” or, if it is a youthful voice, “Aunt Laurie”.
The voice is familiar, yet distant; an echo from the past. My kids are so far away. Their college friends are on another continent, most of whom I’ve never met, or just had a brief introduction to on Skype. Dig deeper. Kutztown. My Kutztown identity: Mom to two kids; Mrs. Lynch to their friends. So long ago.
“When I ask people what is missing most from their lives, the most common answer is ‘community’. But how can we build community when its building blocks—the things we do for each other—have all been converted into money? Community is woven from gifts.” Charles Eisenstein, “Sacred Economics”
I miss them. I miss the latest news about Abby or Anna, Jenna or Steph. Sam or Austin or Ezra. I miss their moms and dads, who I’d run into at CVS or in the pick-up line after rehearsal, or the library—the everyday crisscrossing of carpools and catching up.
“Hello Mrs. Lynch.”
I look, try to focus, find the file of his face in my memory.
“Steve Hobaugh,” I say finally.
Steve, a Penn State graduate, tells me he is interning at Jade Family Farm. I know all about Jade Family Farm, started in 2005 by John Eisenstein and his wife Dana. They sell a wide variety of organic vegetables in Juniata County and bring them to several farmers markets in the State College area. John is the younger brother of Charles Eisenstein, author of “Sacred Economics,” who I’ve mentioned before on this site. I first learned of him at last February’s Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture conference, where he was the keynote speaker. After listening to Charles I had to buy his book.
“The world of the Gift, echoing primitive gift societies, the web of ecology, and the spiritual teachings of the ages, is nigh upon us. It tugs on our heartstrings and awakens our generosity.” Charles Eisenstein, “Sacred Economics”
That morning Steve introduces me to the younger generation of Eisensteins who are helping at the stand. I forget to mention I know their grandmother, Ginny Eisenstein. She was the attorney for the Centre Daily Times when I worked as a crime reporter in the 1980s. Whenever I wrote anything the least bit potentially libelous, Ginny’s name came up. She reviewed my stories to make sure they wouldn’t result in someone suing the paper. That she had to read my stories was a badge of honor, of sorts. But, I digress.
“In the circle of the gift, your good fortune is my good fortune, and your loss is my loss, because you will have correspondingly more or less to give. From that worldview, it is a matter of common sense to include damage to society or nature on the balance sheet.” Charles Eisenstein, “Sacred Economics”
Steve Hobaugh and his parents Bob and Florita share a special place in my past. We were all Rotary “family” to Celso. And Bob was one of Richard’s sponsors when he was a Rotary Exchange Student in Brazil. We saw Steve awarded his Eagle Scout honors, took prom photos and watched his soccer games.
“The sacred way of life connects us to the people and places around us. That means that a sacred economy must be in large part a local economy, in which we have multidimensional, personal relationships with the land and the people who meet our needs, and whose needs we meet in turn.” Charles Eisenstein, “Sacred Economics”
I am too flustered, too disoriented to even look at the vegetables. We exchange a few pleasantries and I move on. Later, I return. A bunch of broccolini—slender stalks from seeds that Steve probably planted, perhaps harvested. We switch roles. I pull a few dollars from my pocket and say my good-byes.
“Hey, Mrs. Lynch. I’m raising chickens now,” Steve calls out. “They just started laying eggs.” –Laurie Lynch
“When we realize that life itself is a gift, and that we are here to give ourselves, then we are free. After all, what you have taken in this life dies with you. Only your gifts live on.” Charles Eisenstein, “Sacred Economics”