Speaking of Religion | One Day for Families, Community, and the Earth

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In the beginning God placed us human beings in a beautiful garden, giving us power over and responsibility for every living thing and earth herself! Since then, Earth's beauty and bounty have overwhelmed us time and again, and on occasion we have used our power to wound earth and one another.

So, many spiritual communities work to bring healing to the Earth, her communities, and her families. One of these wonderful events, Bennington's Fifth Sun and Fun Festival, is about to unfold on Saturday, Aug. 24, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Second Congregational Church at 115 Hillside St.

Sun and Fun offers families of all ages and arrangements the chance to share a joyful, delicious, loving day together at virtually no expense. The festival allows children and adults to meet Vermont wildlife face to face: a red-tailed hawk, a turtle, and owl, a snake and more at two different workshops. We'll experience the science and stories of God's creatures, and the challenges they face right as our world changes.

Children and adults get to imagine themselves as God's creatures if they choose to receive beautiful face painting. We explore water creatures with the Battenkill Conservatory, beekeeping, permaculture, and great books to read. Kids make nature crafts, Fairy Lites, a top, and play. We get to try an electric bike, drive an ELF car, or check out an electric car.

Meanwhile, music by two area bands fills the air all day: the Hale Mountain Pickers, and a talented group of Bennington youth, the Throwbacks, playing favorites from the 50s to today. There is free popcorn, and a mouth-watering lunch offered for your donation. Rain or shine, this is a day for individuals and families to relax, rejoice, and play!

At the same time, the more than 300 visitors have the opportunity to explore more than 35 groups who make our community stronger. When I came back to Bennington a few years ago this event delighted my wife and me as we met so many wonderful people who make our community and earth a better place. We learn how they could help us and how we might help: with solar energy and weatherizing and groups to help us finance those steps, with friends like Retired Teachers, the Choral Society, and 4-H for kids, strengthening our families and neighbors with Habitat for Humanity, Sunrise Family Services, HeadStart, and GBICS. We discover how we could help our world through the Peace Corps, Climate Advocates, Rights and Democracy, Quiet Valley Quilters and Green Mountain Club.

We and our families are invited to one wonderful Saturday, Aug. 24, to savor God's amazing gifts, relax with folks we love, make new friends, and discover ways we can get and give help. I hope you might come savor this special day too! I think God will join us in some big smiles!

-Marsh Hudson-Knapp is a member of Greater Bennington Interfaith Council

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