God speaks to each of us as he makes us
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flame up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by it’s seriousness.
Give me your hand.
by R.M. Rilke The Book of Hours
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Or stand staring
over the precipice?
able to rend and tear and destroy
Yet there amongst the rocks
A glimpse of water
delicious in it’s power to revive
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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond
measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world. There is
nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people
won’t feel insecure about you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to manifest
the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give
other people permission to do the same. As we are
liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically
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As I write this I am on the porch of a cabin looking out a beautiful panoramic view of the Great Smoky Mountains in E. Tennessee. It seems like the first time in a few weeks that I’ve had both the time and inclination to reflect on what I am learning from my life and to write about that reflection. Having grown up in the shadow of the Smoky Mountains and now living in the Midwest, I am always perplexed when I visit at the changes to this area that I think of as home. Driving in to reach this cabin we passed a mountainside that has been what can only be described as ‘raped’ by unregulated building. Rather than a mountainside forested with trees and an occasional house or cabin, it is now covered with nearly identical two and three story cabins with an occasional tree. Rather than the soothing shades of green and brown one is now confronted with the jarring sight of the red clay soil of this area covering nearly the whole mountainside. The sight is a blight on the landscape that is disturbing to see because it represents both a basic disrespect for the land and a disregard for sustainable development. It is an extreme example of what has been happening in this area for years and I wonder where it will all end.
Seeing what is happening to this place I think of as home leads me to wonder at the sustainability of the life I am building for myself. Having this time to slow down and be quiet makes me more aware of just how busy and stressful life has felt in recent weeks. Our family is going through a transition as I start a new job as the director of a shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence in Indianapolis. This new job means I will be commuting and working daily 60 miles away from home until we are able to sell our house and move closer to my work. That change to a daily commute is a significant one but for my kids, particularly my 9 year old son, the idea of moving is very anxiety provoking. He’s been really anxious and worried about the upcoming changes. It’s going to take very intentional decision making and boundary setting on my part over the next few months to ensure that our life during this transition is sustainable for all of us. I’m going to have to be careful about how I use my time so that I have enough energy and time to help my kids (and myself) through this time of change. I don’t want to look back a year from now and see something like I saw driving in here…change that has left scars on the landscape of our lives that will take years to heal. I’d appreciate your prayers during this time of transition.
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I’m reading an interesting book right now, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, in which she chronicles her family’s year of eating only foods grown or produced in their local area of Virginia. The term “locavore” is being used to describe those who are trying to support local farmers and eat foods in season in their particular locales. In doing so, they are trying to create and promote markets for a more sustainable agricultural future. Our current food preferences in the U.S. depend upon fossil fuels to both produce and transport food over great distances. With the rising price of petroleum comes inflation which we are all feeling now not to mention the price that is exacted as we pour more carbon into the atmospere and degrade our topsoil through unsustainable farming practices.
Over the past few months we have been making some efforts to eat more locally. Last summer we bought virtually all of our produce and eggs at the local farmer’s market. We continue to buy eggs, beef, pork and some dairy produced locally but winter in the midwest is not known for an abundance of produce. As I peruse the produce department at my local grocery store and see grapes grown in Chile, Clementines from Spain, bananas from Central America and all kinds of green veggies from California I realize how accustomed I have become to having anything I want at any time at a price I can afford. But I am coming to realize that this kind of global agricultural marketplace comes at a high price to both the environment and, in many cases, to the producers of our ‘affordable’ vegetables and fruits.
I realize that if something does not change, my children will have no concept of how our food is produced and how that food production is connected to the earth and the seasons. As far as they are concerned, strawberries are endlessly available, asparagus has no particular season, tomatoes are a year round food and meat comes in shrink-wrapped plastic containers. When foods are available to us constantly, we lose any sense of the wonder and anticipation that comes from looking forward to a favorite seasonal treat or the appreciation for the cycle of life and our part in that. Nothing is special because it’s always available with a minimal expenditure of effort. When that over-familiarity occurs, we lose some sense of the wonder of God’s creation and our connection to our physical environment.
Over the next few months I’m going to be thinking and writing about what I am learning about trying to eat more locally as well as the hidden costs of the global agricultural marketplace. I’d be interested in hearing your reflections on these issues. To find information about local farmers and food producers in your area, check out localharvest.org.
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It’s been six months since we cancelled our satellite TV subscription and here are a few things I’ve come to realize:
- It’s a lot harder to be without TV programming when the days are short and the weather is bad.
- Fasting from TV does not automatically mean that the time is filled with more enriching or productive activity .
- Children who don’t watch TV require much more attention and energy to parent.
- While waiting until later in life to have children has many advantages, boundless energy is not one of them.
- It is both uncomfortable and rewarding to move out of our comfort zones.
- It is possible to live a normal and fulfilled life without having access to 100+ channels of TV programming.
- I don’t miss hearing every little detail about the day’s horrific tragedy.
- I can still get plenty of news without watching TV. The only time I’ve really wanted to watch the TV news was when we had severe weather. We were able to pick up a local channel (though the reception was pretty bad).
- It’s a lot cheaper to get movies from the library than from Blockbuster.
- I’ve rediscovered how much I enjoy reading for pleasure.
I have to say that our fast is not a complete fast. We do watch movies and videos from the library or Netflix and I’ve even watched a few cooking shows I got at the library. What is significantly different, however, is that the TV is not available to be used 24/7 as a distraction. Anything we watch is an intentional choice (both as to the programming and the time.) I’ve certainly done more reading, writing and listening to music in the last six months and I’ve learned a lot about myself. Fasting is, in part, about exposing our dependencies and clarifying what is important. God has taught me some important lessons in the last six months and for that I am truly grateful.
Thanks be to God!
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