This weekend I attended a rally for abortion rights wearing my clerical “uniform” that marks me as clergy in public. I chose to make my clergy status so visible for a deliberate reason, in order to show that faith and religion are not automatically only on the side of limiting reproductive justice and bodily autonomy. I was the only person publicly proclaiming themself to be a person of faith at the event, and I had some good conversations with people who were curious what church or faith group I was from.
I believe that it is profoundly important for people of liberal or progressive faith to witness to their faith, to show up and side with love and liberation, and to counter the narrative that would put all of faith and religion in this country into the camp of conservativism.
Yesterday was the Fall Equinox, and I am delighted to welcome Fall. It’s my favorite season. But my spiritual director recently asked me about how I say farewell to a season, as well as how I welcome a new one, and it made me think I should express some gratitude to the season that we are saying goodbye to.
Thank you, Summer, for the gifts you gave.
Thank you for sunshine, for evenings eating outside on the patio, and days by the water. Thank you for abundant tasty salads, and for butterflies and bees. Thank you for flowers, for sandal weather. Thank you for cool breezes and the days spent sitting and playing outdoors. Thank you for BBQ’s and picnics. Thank you for clear dry weather to ride my bike to work. For all these gifts, I say thank you.
Today as I weeded my garden, I had several delightful encounters with the residents of the garden: some interesting looking spiders, a couple small snakes, and this praying mantis. I felt a bit guilty, for after all the reason I was seeing them was that I was actively messing up their comfy homes, for they enjoy the weeds and overgrown places.
The garden is a compromise, really, between me and my silly “civilized” desires and the wild inclinations of “nature”. How far apart are those two concepts, in actuality? Probably not as far as we humans make out. But the garden, that is where the two meet (Michael Pollan’s book Second Natureexplores this concept beautifully).
In the garden, I’m constantly tending to the edges of things. The edge where the lawn and the grass meet the flower bed must be clipped. The edge where the hedge meets the path must be cut back. The edge where my desires meet reality must be managed as well. For the garden really can’t be controlled, no matter how much some beautiful gardens give the impression of control. I’m thinking of bonsai and classic Japanese gardens …. so amazingly balanced and controlled.
My garden will never look like that. I’m much more of the haphazard gardener and (aspirational) I hope to have a country cottage sort of garden. This is a garden that really doesn’t pretend to any great amount of control, but also doesn’t want to be completely over run. If nature takes over too much, it’s not really a garden anymore at all, is it?
And so here I am, messing about at the edges, encountering the others who dwell there.
Since April this book, To Bless the Space Between Us,has been my daily devotional reader. Each morning, I’ve read a blessing as part of my spiritual practices. Some of the blessings were relatable for me and I simply accepted the blessing, and others were not, as some of these are very specific. Blessings for a New Father, for instance, doesn’t apply to me. But when I read a blessing that didn’t apply to me I either pictured someone I knew who fit that blessing or I pictured an unknown person out there who needed that blessing and I sent it off to them.
I have never been part of a Blessing culture or faith, but I have felt deeply drawn to the practice and I love what John O Donohue says about who can bless:
Who has the power to bless? This question is not to be answered simply by the description of one’s institutional status or membership. But perhaps there are deeper questions hidden here: What do you bless with? Or where do you bless from? When you bless another, you first gather yourself; you reach below your surface mind and personality, down to the deeper source within you – namely, the soul. Blessing is from soul to soul. And the key to who you are is your soul.
That makes perfect sense to me. To offer a blessing is to reach down into your depths, which some may call a soul. This practice for these months has felt expansive and deeply loving, touching down into my soul depths. Deep gratitude to John O’Donohue for offering these blessings to us all.
This website brings together many aspects of my ministry work, so some explanation of what that work is and what you will find here:
I am a Spiritual Director, offering one on one spiritual direction and companionship to clients, meeting over zoom.
I am an ordained Interfaith Minister and called to the work of Eco-Chaplaincy, addressing the spiritual aspects of the reality of climate change and the loss of nature and our connection to it.
I am a long-time religious educator, from a Unitarian Universalist setting, offering curriculum that I have written for the use of others.
You will find resources and links here for these ministry projects, and below you will find blog posts as I write and share about my ministry and my own spiritual path and practice. Thank you for visiting the site.
Here’s a book that wrestles with the same questions we do here at Growing Together: What is happening in the world right now? How can we make it better? How can we care for one another and this planet? And when it can’t be fixed, how do we still live with connection and resiliency?
Author Sarah Wilson‘s book This One Wild and Precious Life: the path back to connection in a fractured world, was written on both sides of the Covid pandemic, so it still feels fresh and applicable to how we live our lives now. The book is part memoir, part travelogue (of hikes she took around the world), but most of all it is a philosophical and spiritual teaching on how to take this one trip we each get to take in life. Like all other works in this genre, the mix of the personal and specific with the abstract and universal is sometimes an imperfect blend. Wilson’s own life journey is particular to her, and what has worked for her may not work for others. She speaks from the perspective of a white Australian woman, and while she acknowledges her privileges she is still grounded in an experience that many others may not have.
But while recognizing the limitations of the work, I also found sections of it really soared. There is a beauty and a challenge in this work, with both reminders of how truly precious life on this planet is and how easily we let it slip past us if we don’t live with intention. For all of us wrestling with these questions of how to live in times of climate change, capitalism, pandemic, and all the rest of it, this is a valuable story of how one thoughtful fellow traveler has tackled the task.
(For fans of the poet Mary Oliver, this book has no direct connection to that poem. despite the book title. But plenty of poetry is referenced in the book.)
There is so much going on right now about health and our bodies in the world! There is Covid, of course, which is continuing to ravage our world and bring us all into awareness of how our health and wellbeing is connected to the health and wellbeing of others.
And there’s a renewed focus on reproductive health and justice, as well, reminding us again that access to care and control of our bodies is still a present issue.
Our human bodies are such a miraculous, and I believe Sacred, creation. I’m working through Movement Two this month as I remind myself of my own sacred body and its needs for care, and the ongoing healthcare needs of this whole world.
This will be my last post for this month’s focus on Movement One: Food, so I’m going to focus on one of my favorite foods – Beans!
It’s a pretty underrated food. with a bad reputation for giving people gas. But beans are a wonderful source of protein and fiber, and a very affordable food. In their dry form they store really well, or of course you can buy them canned as well.
I’m in favor of buying them in bulk as dry beans. Unfortunately, I know many people just don’t know how to cook them! A food bank staffer once told me that no one wants to take the dry beans, so that they consider them basically trash at the food bank. A real shame, I feel.
That said, cooking beans does require more time than most home cooks have to dedicate to dinner these days. That can be worked around pretty easily and cheaply with a Slow Cooker, and some advanced planning so you start the beans ahead of when you need them. And this year I got my first InstantPot, which means that now I can decide in the afternoon that I want to have beans for dinner and still cook them in time.
Another option for the time-crunched home cook is to cook your beans ahead of time and keep them in the fridge to toss into your recipe. I have done that with chickpeas, cooking them ahead of time and then having them in the fridge to put on top of salads.
However you find the time, you’ll be opening up a whole new world of affordable nutrition. You can get the basic dry beans at any grocery store, and warehouse stores often have giant bulk bags. Or, while it’s a bit more money, there are amazing heritage bean varieties out there you may never have even heard of. I grow some beans in my garden each year and have lots of fun with the cool colors and shapes and flavors. There’s also a very cool company, Rancho Gordo, that specializes in heritage beans.
So I encourage everyone to try more beans. Healthy, sustainable, affordable, they check all the boxes.
This week we participated in a local climate action group discussion of the film Kiss the Earth.
The film is worth watching, and has some good ideas in it. Some of it had me rolling my eyes a little bit, but then again there is also a story of a farmer in North Dakota who read up on Thomas Jefferson’s farming practices to figure out how it was done before all the chemicals came into being …. and that story I found delightful!
A few take-aways:
Our nation needs to change how we do farm subsidies!
Ranching and animals have a place in the cycle (but feedlots do not).
Composting programs are needed and great, and we should work to encourage them.
Groundcover, not naked earth!
If you have time and interest, the film is worth watching. It’s available on Netflix right now. And, whether you have time to watch the film or not, the title is a good reminder to us all to be grateful to the soil. The living soil of this planet is truly a miracle and we wouldn’t be alive without it. Life on land basically boils down to a few feet of miraculous living soil and the fact that it rains. For those things I lift up so much thanks. Let’s take care of the cycle.