Saturday, March 26, 2011

A profound mystery

The leavening of yeast must have seemed to ancient men a profound mystery, and yet something on which they could always depend. Just so does the supernatural enter our natural life, working in the hiddenness, forcing the new life into every corner and making the dough expand.

If the dough were endowed with consciousness, it would not feel very comfortable while the yeast was working. Nor, as a rule, does our human nature feel very comfortable under the transforming action of God, steadily turning one kind of love into another kind of love--desire into charity, clutch into generosity, Eros into Agape.

Creation is change, and change is often painful and mysterious to us. Spiritual creation means a series of changes, which at last produce a Holiness, God's aim for us.

Source: Evelyn Underhill, The School of Charity

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dry Ground Planting: Before Easter

Harold R. Wilkins
For Karis - Happy Birthday my friend!

When I was little
we stepped down hard
on our dark iron spades
previously sharpened by hand
with whetstone and well water
til the shovels’ edges
shined a silver hem all around
their cutting aprons...

all in order to turn the dry person,
I mean, the dry earth
over for the new outlook to be
forced into the dead ground
of the mind and heart,
I mean, the seed, of course,
the seed to be forced
into the winter weary ground...
and all this
in the time before Easter...

far down in the bodies of humans,
the river Esperanza, Hope
is buried in the unconscious,
but has kept the human heart alive
even through deadened life, I mean
of course, the land, I meant
the dry land of the Midwest contained
this secret miracle
that the spade brought to light...
Though a mile away, the St. Joe river
had kept the earth deep down
moist, a little mucky even,
and ready to clasp
the seed just right
til it could break through to the Light.

Sometimes, hitting a stretch
of fine, dry topsoil
our grandmothers,
in a display of strength
enough for nine men
and nine horses,
would throw shovelfulls
of the black dust up
into the air,
grab our little hands,
and we would rush forward...
eyes clamped closed and
holding our breath...
we would rush
through the cloud of
airborn earth,
coughing after,
but feeling holy

And our grandmothers
over so many years,
telling these ways of
living more
and freshly every time,
would aver that no matter
what week it fell
or falls upon in this year,
This opening of the earth
and turning it over
from its dry side
to its wet side
was our Ash Wednesday
the original sacramental...

that is...
the original remembering
of the battering
the New Child of Light
both receives and takes,
and that this Child of Light,
regardless of the 40 days
of suffering the hail of fists
or like our fields, the hail
of ice; the starvation of
no water but gall given,
or like our fields,
the gasping for lack of water...
that the Holy One, even if in
retreat, like our fields
in fallow or draught,
seeming with green song dead,
will nonetheless Live
again, come back to life, again,
no matter what.

Thus in all these years
when I am as old now
as my grandmothers were
back then, and
my silver lipped spade
has become my pen,
and the earth that has
wintered so hard in the field,
is now my body and my mind,
my heart and spirit,
my soul ...

and my thoughts
‘that once were’--
are the dry dust now.
And the thoughts
raining into me now,
sucking for ‘new life’-
are the wet side of the earth,
now cut into me,
spaded down deep in me,
hefted and turned upward
with great effort, slammed
down hard
to break the clods

This spading will go on,
cutting, hefting, slamming
and breaking
as all are readied to receive
the hand-chosen seeds
kept safe over winter.

When the flower is greater
than the weather, we will
be done for now.

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Lent 2011 - Food as Holy Provision and Simple Gift

Lent snuck up on me again this year and I find giving things up without some consideration and time isn't helpful for me personally. Any time I create a vacuum in my life it ends up being filled by something; usually something worse than what I had given up. In previous years I intentionally replaced what I am fasting with a positive practice that makes life more balanced for me - I did not take the time to prepare this year, so I have chosen to use this Lenten season to consider deeply the food I eat, the emotions tied to it and the practices around it.

As a woman with an eating disorder and a long history of body issues I have had some healing and wholeness replace much of the distortion I grew up with around food, nourishment and self image. Far too often though I find that many who do find life long recovery with an eating disorder never find the joy and the celebration in food that I think God intended us to live with. Food is always the enemy, the foe or the temptation. I'm not sure that real healing stops there. I long to find the place of balance, where food is neither my best friend, or my worst enemy. Those around us know that we love to cook and celebrate with food here at the Turner household. We are slowly learning to replace the over processed and restaurant food we were raised on with home made recipes and healthy alternatives. Each layer of healing pulls us more toward the center of who we long to be.

I have also found that far too often that there can be a legalism that creeps into the healthy food mentality - the once "holier than thou" that rubbed me raw in my childhood has, at times, become "granolier than thou" and I bristle at the rigidity that some circles have around healthier eating. I long to find a balance and find the invitation into healthier choices instead of being guilted and shamed into changes I am not really ready for.

To that end I was thrilled to find that Richard Rohr's Center for Action and Contemplation is spending Lent 2011 on this same track -
Lent 2011 is a time for self-examination and reflection. Usually, "good" religious observers eliminate sweets or other foods that distract from God. This year, the Center for Action and Contemplation invites you to discover food and the act of eating as something to embrace and reclaim as a daily and sacramental action.

In 1825, the French philosopher and gourmand Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are." Since our culture has commodified food, and eating has been reduced to a consumer act, our hope is that in this daily meditation, we will begin to connect more deeply to food as a soul activity. One that connects us with rain, sun, soil, wind, animal and the farmer who has bent to sow, grow, and harvest the food that nourishes our collective body and soul daily.

Join in here: Lent 2011 - Food as Holy Provision and Simple Gift

And on that same note I awoke to this on my facebook feed. While I know that Hellmen's is owned by Unilever and it is actually part of the problem, not the solution, the information in this video is striking in the way it turns stats and information into tangible, visual understanding:

Image: "Stilleben," Floris van Dyck, 1613

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Utterly ignorant of celebration

The spiral of materialism is eternal and never ends.... The materialist is never satisfied. For the heart is not made full or satisfied by any, or even all, of the things that the religion of materialism and its preachers of advertising want so desperately to sell us. "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be," warned Jesus. And the treasures that lead to compassionate living are not buyable because they are less objects than they are experiences.... Greed never asks when is enough, enough? It knows nothing of limits. Therefore, it knows nothing of the true pleasures that life is about. It is utterly ignorant of celebration.
Source: Matthew Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion

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