Episode 11: The Eagle and the Arrow

Erin shares her “word” for 2019, as well as the story and metaphors behind it that mean so much to her, (even through she’s slightly embarrassed by the word itself.) We also have some news about Tend Podcast and Yet Untold toward the end.

New episodes of Tend Podcast will return on February 5th!

Keep up with updates on the course Erin is creating by subscribing to the newsletter.

Word of the Year for 2019!

SOAR-

Like the Eagle, I will catch the updrafts and soar on outstretched wings.

Like the Arrow, I will fly straight and hit the mark set before me.

Neither of these I will attain by my power, but his only.

Verse of the Year:

Isaiah 40:31

but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

If you want to find your own word for the year and need a little guidance, here are a few helpful resources.

The ladies over at the Abiding Together podcast just published their episode on this and shared some tips.

Jenifer Fulwiler created a “Word of the Year generator.”

And I wrote a little bit more about it on the blog.

Episode 10: The Advent of Justice for Us

This is the third episode in our series for Advent, The Advent of Justice, which is about some of the types of justice we are waiting for Christ to bring to earth. In this episode we are looking at ourselves with God, paying attention to the justice that we are waiting for, and at the same time, acknowledging that we are fallen human beings who are need of forgiveness. We are using the Examen prayer to help us.

***As a side-note (this did not make it into the recording), in this episode I acknowledged that there were some people who were suffering to the point of not being able to feel God’s presence, and then soon after launched into this prayer exercise. They are related insofar as this prayer can help you see God’s presence more clearly, however, I do not mean to connect our sinfulness with God’s presence. God is always present to us, and if our sin is keeping us from him, it’s on our side, not his. He would never punish you by withdrawing himself. Anytime you turn to him, he is there. Now back to the regularly scheduled programming….

Christmas is just one week away, and things just seem to be speeding up. As our liturgical, or religious traditions compete with the more secular, cultural traditions, it gets more and more difficult to keep the spirit of Advent. And I get it, trust me. I’m more “cloistered" than most people. I stay at home most of the time. We don’t know many people around here yet, so there are no Christmas parties to go to. My kid isn’t in school yet, so none of that kind of activity either. Even so, we are already looking ahead to travel plans, and family activities, and all that entails. 

So I wonder if you’re willing to take a moment with me, even if you’re currently wrapping presents or driving to Target for the umpteenth time, to just sit and ponder. Let’s stay in Advent for just a while longer before we move onto Christmas.

In this very short series, I have tried to bring attention to a little bit of the pain in the world. I did this for a couple of reasons— 1) So that we would have a chance to practice seeing what God came to save us from, and what he is currently saving us from, and what he will come back to save us from.  It’s like an eternal moment of extreme sorrow that is in process of being made right. God sees it this way all the time (well, I mean, this is how I imagine it—I’m sure it’s much more than this, and also very different), but I mean to say that the way we see things is not the way God sees things. We are so little and so short-sighted in comparison. Think about the difference between you and a two year old child. What do they do when they want something, or something is hurting them. It’s like the whole world is ending this very moment IF IT DOES NOT CHANGE NOW! We, thankfully, have a little better grasp on time. We have the knowledge and a little wisdom to know that things take time. Well, blow that up times a million billion, and maybe that begins to help us understand how God sees things so differently than us.

That was a bit of a tangent, but the point is that there is pain in the world and God sees it and is doing something about it. 

And, 2) So we could practice seeing how we can help God do this work. He’s always inviting us in to his plan. It’s alway about communion, community, fellowship. 

I think that when we practice seeing things this way, it breeds hope in our hearts. If we are aware that God is in on all this, that he is working on it, and that we are part of his plan to work on it, then it gives us a sense of action. Something is happening. We are waiting, but we are waiting expectantly. 

But...What do you do when you feel like you are the one waiting for justice? What if you are going through suffering that you cannot see the end of and are feeling hopeless? What if we can’t begin to think about helping others because what we are going through is all-consuming?

If this is how you feel, then first of all, I want to tell you that you are seen, and you are loved. Deeply loved. God sees you. He knows you. He knows exactly what you are going through, and he is in it with you. I know it doesn’t always feel like it. Maybe you haven’t felt his presence in a long time. I know what this is like—I’ve been through that. Trust me, and take my word for it—He is with you, especially when you don’t feel it. Ok? 

I could go on for hours about this. This topic is what I did my final project on for graduate school, and I will definitely go into this in more detail in the near future. In fact, I’m creating a whole online course on it. But for now, let’s do something practical. You know I’m all about what’s practical. 

What can you do right now, if you are waiting for justice for yourself? There are a whole variety fo things, but in the spirit of this series, I am going to lead you through a prayer. This time, a prayer of Examen. 

The Examen prayer, or Examination of Conscience is a type of meditative, contemplative prayer that is mostly widely known to be a part of the Ignatian tradition, but it’s probably much older than that. Basically, it’s a series of questions, or steps, that you go through at the end of the day, or a couple times throughout your day, that help you see where God has been present with you. Sometimes it’s easier for us to see where God was, than where he is

There are five steps: Gratitude, Awareness, Review, Forgiveness, and Grace. Depending on who is leading or teaching it, these steps vary a little, but the main points are that you practice gratitude, ask for God’s light to shine into your memories of the day, ask him where you could have done better, and then ask for forgiveness and grace to do better. 

So, I am going to lead us through a prayer of Examen. I will say that doing this once is good, but practicing it nightly is better. Seeing God working in our life is hard. Seeing how we need to change, or how we have changed is hard. But this type of prayer can help us see a progression simply by paying attention to everyday things that happen on a regular basis. 

Also—a note on remembering sins. When you do this remember that God looks at you in love. If you are trying to do better, then he is so gentle with you. Jesus condemned the people who knew better, and could do better, but didn’t even try, but he was very, very gentle with those who messed up but were trying to change, or those who didn’t know any better! Sometimes I do things that I know are wrong, or I don’t do things that I know I should do, but all it takes is confession to a loving and gentle father, and I am forgiven. This is not about beating yourself up, but about feeling the grace that is freely offered to you right now. That is why we ask for God’s light to shine on our day and in our memories. We don’t want to look back on our own, with only our own point of view, but we look at the day together with God. It is a dialogue with God about how this day went. Let him tell you what he thought about it and what he thinks about you. You might be surprised by what you hear!

Ok, let’s begin. 


+In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit…

Acknowledge God’s presence with you wherever you are. Even if you can’t feel him, he is there. St. Catherine said like a fish that doesn’t know it’s swimming in water. That’s how close God is to us. 

Tell him what you are grateful for. 

  • Dorothy Day wrote to "thank God for favors."

  • What has brought you joy today?

  • What little thing delighted you?

Awareness

  • Ask God for grace to see clearly. Dorothy Day wrote “beg for light."

  • Ask that God would help you see yourself as he sees you. 

  • Ask that you would be able to see your sin so that you can be rid of it. 

Review

  • Using your imagination and memory, take a walk through your day with God. 

  • What made you happy? Sad?

  • What was your greatest joy?

  • What was your deepest sorrow?

  • What stressed you out?

  • What was confusing or worrisome?

  • What caused you to love more?

  • Ask God to bring to mind sins of thought, word, or deed. Things that you did that you shouldn’t have, and things that you didn’t do, but should have. 

Forgiveness

  • Holding those sins in your mind, ask God for forgiveness. Ask him to pardon you for your faults. 

Grace

  • Ask for grace to amend them.

  • Ask for grace to go on and not sin in that way again. 

  • Resolve to do rightly. 

  • Trust that God forgives you.


At this point, I like to circle back around and thank God for his forgiveness and his grace. You might want to think ahead to tomorrow, asking God to be with you then, in whatever activities you have planned, whatever worries you have about tomorrow. Just go ahead and acknowledge that he will be with you then, as he is with you right now. 

Let’s go ahead and close with the Lord’s Prayer…

Our Father who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy Name.  

Thy kingdom come.  

Thy will be done,  

On earth as it is in heaven.  

Give us this day our daily bread. 

And forgive us our trespasses,  

As we forgive those who trespass against us.  

And lead us not into temptation,  

But deliver us from evil.  

[For thine is the kingdom,

and the power, and the glory,  

for ever and ever.]

Amen

Announcements!

The Fellowship is open!

Get on the mailing list to receive an offer for a free month of membership. There are so many exciting things in store for 2019, and I can’t wait to share them with you, so just go ahead and sign up. What do you have to lose? I’ll just say it…I think you have more to lose by not signing up! 


Music by Asher Graieg-Morrison.








Episode 9: The Advent of Justice for the Poor Among Us

For this Advent season, I am creating a short series of meditative, contemplative exercises for you to do while you listen. It requires, literally, no extra work for you to do (and in fact, you can do this while doing other things, like the dishes), but it allows you to enter into this season in a deeper and more meaningful way.

For more information about Advent and this series, you can listen to the previous two episodes, if you like. Last week we looked at the "Advent of Justice for the Stranger.” This week we are looking at, or facing, the poor among us. There are only three weeks in Advent this year (slightly over) and I’m trying to be both general and specific in these categories that I’m choosing. I’m telling you, it’s hard! But I do want to bring attention to what God brings attention to in the scriptures. There is some overlap, but I am intentionally ordering them this way so that we are moving from the outside inward.

Last week, in facing the injustice done to the stranger, we exercised our ability to recognize people who are very different than us as people created in the image of God. We were reminded that we are more alike than we are different. We might have identified with the way the woman was protecting her children and attempting to give them a better and safer life, despite all the obstacles. We might have even seen Christ in and amongst them.

This week we turn more inward. As we look at the plight of the poor among us, let’s turn the tables on ourselves, and ask how those without many possessions might be more rich than us. Let’s also ask ourselves how we are being called to help, especially in this season.

I’m going to be honest and tell you that I’ve really struggled with writing this episode. I thought that I was going to pick another image to meditate on, like we did last week, but I couldn’t make it work. The idea of picking an image to meditate on made me feel icky. I didn’t want to objectify people who were already so often dehumanized as it was. Last week, using the image that I did, I felt that I was humanizing the people in the photograph because they were already being objectified by the media and by the general population. That image came to me, and was the seed for this whole series, so there wasn’t a question in my mind about using it, but for this week I couldn’t pick a poster child for the poor.

Instead, we’re going to do something a little different. I’m going to read you the words of Jesus—words I’m sure you’ve heard before. I’m going to read them twice. And then I’ll pray, using other people’s words, asking for God to intervene and bring justice, all the while acknowledging my own hand in the injustice.

I’m not preaching to you. If you feel convicted, then would be the Holy Spirit! I am guilty and not worthy to teach you this lesson. I have friends who are experts in this, and live according to the gospel in regards to the poor. But I am still learning. I have a lot of trouble being generous. So, trust me when I tell you that this is for me too.

I have two goals with this series: 1)That it would be a bright spot that lights up the distance between us and our neighbor, and helps us to remember that we are all made in the image of God and we should treat each other accordingly. And, 2) that it would remind us that complete Justice comes when Jesus comes and that is what we are waiting for this Advent season. So it’s about waiting for him to make it all ok, while we, in the meantime, do what we can to make it better.

Ok, let’s get into this. I’m reading from Luke 12:13:34. Jesus is speaking to a crowd and someone asks him a question about an inheritance. Jesus takes the opportunity to not give him an answer (surprise, surprise!) but to lay out a foundation for how we should think about money in general. It’s not a passage specifically about the poor, but it does reorient us, I think. It helps provide that space that allows us to think more rightly.

The first time I read this, Just listen to the words. Begin to imagine the crowd and the setting and listen to what Jesus is telling you.

Listen

Luke 12: 13-34

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Pray

Saint Oscar Romero:

December 3, 1978

Advent should admonish us to discover

in each brother or sister that we greet,

in each friend whose hand we shake,

in each beggar who asks for bread,

in each worker who wants to use the right to join a union,

in each peasant who looks for work in the coffee groves,

the face of Christ.

Then it would not be possible to rob them,

to cheat them,

to deny them their rights.

They are Christ,

and whatever is done to them

Christ will take as done to himself.

This is what Advent is:

Christ living among us.

Canticle of Mary (Magnificat) Luke 1: 46-55

Intercessions from the Magnificat Journal (December 12)

Mary’s evening song of praise reminds us that God’s priorities are not those of the world around us. Let us pray for the coming of his kingdom:

Response: Hear the cry of the poor!

For those whose arrogance blinds them to their need for salvation:

Response: Hear the cry of the poor!

For those whose satiety deafens them to the hungers of their spirit:

Response: Hear the cry of the poor!

For those whose pursuit of this world’s goods hides from them the treasures to be laid up in heaven:

Response: Hear the cry of the poor!

For those whose flight from death through pleasure, work, and possessions keeps them from the joy of placing all their hope in Christ, our life:

Response: Hear the cry of the poor!


Our Father…

And…

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And, as always, our beautiful music is by Asher Graieg-Morrison.

Episode 8: The Advent of Justice for the Stranger

As we await the coming of the Lord during the season of Advent, we are also acknowledging all that is broken in this world now. This episode is a contemplative exercise, a prayerful exploration of a particular place of injustice, and an invitation for Jesus to come into it.

For this Advent season, I thought about what I should do (or not do) on this podcast because I didn’t want to just add to the noise. I suppose it depends entirely on what circles you run in, but mine is currently overrun with Advent information—devotionals, reflections, books, blogposts, podcasts!, ideas for practicing at home, with your kids, in your church, etc., etc. etc…. So many of these resources are excellent and worthwhile, but I can’t do them all! I can’t even read them all! I currently I have about five or six devotionals just for Advent on my shelf, and that’s pretty much what they do—they sit on the shelf! 

I hope that you have found simple practices that help you attend to this season without feeling overwhelmed—and if you have not, I have some resources to offer you at the end of this episode.

It can become paralyzing—all these good and beautiful resources but no time to begin them! So I didn’t want to create another thing for you to “do”. If you are already listening, then maybe you are also sitting in your favorite chair and drinking some tea, or maybe you’re washing dishes. Perhaps you are driving to work, or to drop the kids off at school. You might be painting or knitting or making dinner….Wherever you are, God is with you right now. You don’t have to go off and find him; you have only to attend to his presence. 

But it is so difficult to see that he is present when the world is completely mad.I don’t think that it matters what country you’re in—there is so much to lament! In my country, the U.S., I can’t say things like that without worrying that someone is going to take that the wrong way, insinuate all kinds of things that I didn’t say into it, and then start an argument with me. That alone is lamentable. We have lost the ability, in so many ways, to really talk to each other, to be ok with differing views. We have stopped seeing our neighbor and instead have created an enemy where there really wasn’t one to begin with. I honestly feel sick to my stomach and a little anxious just talking about this right now. 

But, listen, guys. Advent is not just a countdown to presents. It is not another part of this crazy, consumeristic conspiracy for you to spend all your money on making your loved ones momentarily happy. In fact, I think so much of that is just a distraction from what is really hurting us, and ends up hurting us more. Instead of facing it, we cover it up with jubilant noise, so we no longer hear the cry for justice in our hearts, and the cognitive dissonance grows greater still, making us even more depressed—the very opposite of what Christmas should bring. 

Advent is a space, a liminal space, a waiting space, where we sit expectantly hoping for Christmas. We are waiting for what’s to come, and what’s to come is Christ’s return, his second coming, when he will put this whole messed up world right again. We also await his birth, in a different kind of way, because it already happened… but we put ourselves in the position of those who were waiting for the Messiah to be born, using our imaginations.

I wanted to create something that would help you attend to the season Right Now. So for the next three episodes, I’m going to be doing something a little different. I’m going to lead you through a time of contemplation of a certain type of injustice happening in the world today. We are going to look it in face, knowing that it will be conquered and made right, and in another way, has already been conquered and is being made right. 

If that makes you nervous and just want to end this episode right now, then you are not alone! That is instinct kicking in—we want to run and hide from what hurts us. But I promise, that my goal is to not bring more pain, but hope. We are going to look injustice right in that face, and we will see Jesus there. Ok?

We’re going to do this in this way:

We’ll look at an image—I realize that you may not be able to see the image right away (I’ll have a link in the show notes) but I’ll describe it very well. You’ll be able to hold it in your imagination.Why an image? It creates sort-of a cross section of a situation in which injustice is happening and allows up to explore it imaginatively but concisely. It gets to the heart of the situation quickly because we are not stopping to describe the political, sociological, or other types of factors. Imagine that you are dropped into this scene, immediately in front of the people in the image, not knowing anything else really. What would you do—these people need help.

Ok, so I’ll first describe the image at face value, and then go deeper into what I see there. What is the hurt, what is the injustice? Remember, it is always always always about the people, God’s children.

After confronting the image fully, we’ll then turn to scripture. I’ll have one, maybe two passages that we will read over a couple of times. These will also confront the type of injustice that is displayed in the image, but will bring hope to our hearts, because God is already on the job. 

Injustice-refugee.jpg

Ok, first up: this image was in the news recently, and you probably saw it. It is of a woman and two children at the Mexico/U.S. They are running from the tear gas being launched in their direction. Remember, before I go on, that that is the context of the image, but what is in the image is people, people who are made in the image of God. So if you are offended that I am bringing up this image, then sit with that for a minute. Why are you offended? What ties or allegiances do you have that might inhibit you from showing mercy or charity to God’s children. 

The woman, presumable the mother, is holding her children by their arms and they are running from the white smoke in the background. They must have had to start running quickly because one of the kids is being held by the wrong arm, so her body is twisted away from us, and she leaning over quite a bit. Her weight is probably being supported by her mom.  Both of the girls are wearing only t-shirts and diapers, without pants. One of the girls is wearing flip-flops. The other girl is running without shoes.

The mother looks over her shoulder as they run, obviously worried and afraid. She might be looking at what she is terrified of, or she might be looking at her daughter, running beside her.  She grasps her children with the full strength of her hands and pulls them away from danger. We do not what danger she has already tried to save her children from on her long journey. She is wearing tight black pants, maybe leggings, and a very tight t-shirt. It has the cartoon characters of Elsa and Anna from the Disney movie Frozenon it. It looks to have been made for a twelve year old girl, and is way too small for this woman. Her arms bulge out from the arm holes and it does not quite cover her belly. The fabric is stretched across her skin. Was this the only clothing she could find to wear? At what point on this journey must she be, to be wearing something so obviously uncomfortable. She is also carrying one sack. It looks to be nothing more than a large purse, something the size I would carry to the coffee shop, certainly not enough for a long journey or even an overnight stay. This woman seems to be alone with her children. There is no man present to be husband, or father, or protector and provider. 

There are other people in the image, seemingly separate from this family. In the foreground, they are also running away from the gas. In the background, there is a crowd. Some of them are running. Others are congregating. There is a baby stroller visible. And one person has a brace or cane. 

The ground around them is dry and barren. Nothing is growing here. It does’t look like a place a person would want to be, if they had a choice in the matter. It looks to be a place of waiting, maybe desperation, and even still, hope. 

Now let’s turn to the scriptures. 

Deuteronomy 24 

17 “You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge, 18 but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the LORD your God reddened you from there; therefore I command you to do this.


Psalm 68: 

4 Sing to God, sing praises to his name;

lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts;

his name is the LORD;

exult before him!

5 Father of the fatherless and protector of widows

is God in his holy habitation.

6 God settles the solitary in a home;

he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,

but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.


Matthew 25

34 Then the King will say to those on his right, "‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Prayer from Magnificat, December 4th, Morning Prayer Intercession

As we await with joy the One who will rule the world with justice, let us pray:

R: Come and rule over us, Prince of Peace!

You bring the spirit of wisdom and understanding:

Build bridges of understanding among those who differ.

R: Come and rule over us, Prince of Peace!

You bring the spirit of counsel and strength: 

Guide the strong to assist the week. 

R: Come and rule over us, Prince of Peace!

You bring the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord:

Enlighten us with true knowledge of you during this holy season

R: Come and rule over us, Prince of Peace!



(Place personal intentions or prayer needs here.)


Our Father…



God our Father, you have promised us peace in the kingdom won for us by your Son. Carve in our hearts a place of peace where all may be invited to dwell in your love, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen. 


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Resources

Tend Podcast, Episode 7: Preparing for Advent (B)

My friend, Tamara, hosts a series every year on her blog. (P)

My new friend, Carissa Pluta, has a blogpost about some devotionals that are worth looking at.(C)

This Living Today Well blogpost about a restful Advent (C)

And, my friend David made the ultimate Advent devotional list. (P)

Key: C for Catholic, P for Protestant, and B for Both, but go ahead and check them all out!

As always, our gorgeous music is by Asher Graieg-Morrison.

Episode 7: Preparing for Advent

Preparing for Advent is kind of like preparing to prepare for Christ’s birth, but we’re going with it! In this episode, Jess and Erin discuss cultural differences in regards to this season, metaphors, practices, and the hopeful kind of waiting.

Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present to it. 
— Henri Nouwen

Romans 8: 22-25 The Message Bible

22-25 All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s withinus. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.


Practice

-Read a devotional, reader, or daily scriptures

-Light an Advent wreath with your family, either weekly or daily.

-Read a work of fiction

-Create something

-Try fasting from something like a food, or electric lights!

Let us know what you are tending to by searching #tendpodcast on IG.

Also, our gorgeous music is by Asher Graieg-Morrison

Episode 6: The Sacramental Nature of an Heirloom Tomato

To-may-to, to-mah-to…. Jess and I might not agree on how to say the name of that delicious fruit-vegetable, but we do agree that we should consider it a little more deeply than how good it tastes. In this episode, we are talking about the theology of food, how eating should be a conversation of gratefulness to God, how death brings us life, and what practical things we can do to eat and shop a little more intentionally.

With every bite we put in our mouth, we are making a political and theological statement. With our approach to food and eating, we proclaim what we believe: about God, our bodies, the care of the earth and those who harvest food from it, and the poor.
— Lane M. Arnold and Valerie E. Hess, The Life of the Body: Physical Well-Being and Spiritual Formation
Man must eat in order to live; he must take the world into his body and transform it into himself, into flesh and blood. He is indeed that which he eats, and the whole world is presented as one all-embracing banquet table for man. And this image of the banquet remains throughout the whole Bible, the central image of life. It is the image of life at its creation and also the image of life at its end and fulfillment.
— Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World

Psalm 104

14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
    and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
15     and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
    and bread to strengthen man's heart. (ESV)

All that exists is God’s gift to man, and it all exists to make God known to man, to make man’s life communion with God. It is divine love made food, made life for man. God blesses everything He creates, and, in biblical language, this means that He makes all creation the sign and means of His presence and wisdom, love and revelation....
— Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World

PRACTICE

  • Share it! Practice hospitality and invite some folks over to share food with.

  • Grow your own food (even if it’s just herbs in a pot!)

  • Try and buy even just a couple of things organic or from a farmer’s market.

  • Do a bit of reading and research to start thinking in the right direction. Easy way to do this: watch a documentary on Netflix, like Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food or Food, Inc.

  • Attempt to make some change, not all the change. You’ll find that good choices are made easier by practice, attentiveness, and time.

Episode 5: Practicing Hospitality (Even on Facebook)

As we draw near to the holiday season, you might be thinking a lot about inviting people into your home, which is a wonderful thing to do! But that’s not all there is to the spiritual practice of hospitality. In this episode, Erin talks about what true hospitality looks like and the reason we should focusing on it during this season of the year especially.


We are so ‘full’ of ourselves that there is no room left for God. And that means there is no room for others either, for children, for the poor, for the stranger.
— Pope Benedict XVI

Practice

  • Be open to inviting someone new into your circle or your life. Be on the lookout for people you come across who seem to be in need of a friend. Approach them with kindness, keeping in mind that they probably have more to offer you than you to them.

  • Look for ways in which you could simplify your life so that you have more room for others. Perhaps by keeping one day a week free on your calendar, or by cleaning out the guest bedroom so that it can be used. Simplify simply by not being so concerned with other people’s opinions of you.

  • Make room in conversations by listening to the person you’re with. Even in these short moments (after church, at work, in passing at the grocery store,…) there is great potential for Christ to break in if you let him.

  • Pay attention to how you are interacting with people online. Are you as kind and patient as you would be in person? Don’t allow yourself to be baited, and inject kindness and love wherever you can.


Reflect

  • Am I hospitable to myself? Am I at home with myself? (Questions about ourselves are hard. You might need the help of a really close friend or counselor to help you sort through some of this.)

  • How have my fears caused me to be narrow-minded and closed off toward my neighbor (and God, and the stranger…)?

  • Am I able to withdraw and make space for another person to be and feel free in my presence, or do I feel the need to assert myself at all times?

Hospitality is the virtue that allows us to break through the narrowness of our own fears and to open our houses to the stranger, with the intuition that salvation comes to us in the form of a tired traveler.
— Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer



Resources

Hebrews 13: 1-2

Deuteronomy 10: 18-19

The Wounded Healer, by Henri Nouwen

Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, by Adele Calhoun

Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.
— Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out

Episode 4: Clothe Yourself

This podcast is about the things we do and why they matter, and there are few things that we do more often than get dressed, but also, for a lot of us, few things that we think less about, at least in a mindful and theological way.

Be sure to let us know what you are tending to by sharing on social media with #tendpodcast!

Practice

  1. Take time to think about what you want your clothing to do for you. How do you want to feel in it? What have been your favorite, most worn outfits in the past? Why did you love them so much? What colors were they? Use pinterest or cut pictures out of magazines to make a lookbook for yourself.

  2. Go through what you already have and make sure you are utilizing it well. Does anything need to be mended, patched, or cleaned? Have you forgotten about a piece because your closet it too full? Can you put a new outfit together using things you already have

  3. Give things away that you do not use. One of the most freeing practices I have come across lately is to give things away that I have some attachment to or really like, but for whatever reason (too small, wrong color) do not get used. It’s easy to give away things that are no good to us, but it’s a spiritual practice when we feel a bit of resistance but we do it anyway. For me, it’s been freeing when I’ve realize that I was attached to a memory, not an object. If you don’t want to go cold turkey, put the things in a box, hide it away for about six months and see if you’ve missed it.  


Resources

“Simplicity is openness, unselfconsciousness, naturalness.” —Richard Foster, The Celebration of Discipline

On Instagram

  • #slowfashionoctober

  • #whomademyclothes

Erin’s favorite sewing pattern designer, Meg McElwee (@sewliberated)

World Resources Institute, and especially this article.

The True Cost Documentary

I would love to link for you the images of the garments Jess made for her guided study, but I don’t thing she’s put them online. I’m putting this here as a little nudge for that to happen.

Regent College

Asher Graieg-Morrison Music

Episode 3: Simplicity

The spiritual discipline of simplicity is often tied up with money or belongings, and specifically the idea that, if we are to follow Christ, then we have to give up everything we own (at least the good stuff!) In this episode we talk about how that is not really it. It's far deeper and much more simple.

Practice

Think before you speak. Pause before answering. Let your yes or no stand, but make sure you want to say yes first. Try not to make excuses for yourself. Let your actions or the situation be what it is. Don’t apologize unnecessarily.

Clean out an area of your home. Give things away. Look around and see if there’s anything you do not use (or like!) Get rid of it. If someone else likes it, give it to them (maybe even if you’d rather keep it for yourself.

Try and go the whole month without buying anything but necessities. Buy things like toothpaste and dish soap in advance so you can stick to only buying food. Try to stay away from anything that produces a feeling of want or lack in you—like Pinterest, blogs, or television.

Scripture

Matthew 5:37

Matthew 6:19-21

Mark 10:21

Philippians 4:11-12

  • Richard Foster writes that, “We should take exception to the modern psychosis that defines people by how much they can produce or what they earn. We should experiment with bold new alternatives to the present death-giving system” (Foster, 81).  Do you measure your own worth by what you produce? How about others’ worth by what they earn or have?

  • What do you think you are entitled to? Is everyone entitled to have this? If not, why do you think you are?

  • What is something that you really want or “need” right now? Would it actually add to your life or just add to a pile in your closet? What do you already own that might do in its place?

  • Are you envious of those who have more things or opportunities than you?

  • What would if feel like to give away half of what you won to someone who needs it?

  • In what way do you use language to make yourself look better than you are?

  • The Disciplines often overlap each other. Did you think of any others while you were listening? Do you find them easier or harder to practice? Why do you think that is?

Sources

Richard Foster, The Celebration of Discipline, The Path to Spiritual Growth

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us

Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, Understanding How God Changes Lives

A Prayer For Simplicity, by Edward Hays

Tend Theme by Asher Graig-Morrison

Episode 2: Place

This is the first “official episode, complete with show notes and a cohost, Jess Graieg-Morrison! Please bear with us as we get used to the idea of recording ourselves.

This week we are talking about the idea of “place,” specifically how the location we live our lives influences us, whether we are aware of it or not. Jess and I share how moving away from our respective homes helped us understand better how those places influence our ways of thinking and our identities. We use Wendell Berry as a conversation partner and learn from him as we read his words about being in a place, investing in the place, and knowing the place.


Questions to consider…

  • How do you feel that your physical location in the world, at this time in your life, is pushing back on you—changing you in some way?

  • Does where you live feel like home?

  • Do you plan on staying put? Are you being called to stay put, even though it’s hard?

  • How have you made an effort to invest in your community and your neighborhood (whether you are staying put or not)?

  • How do you know when the call to move somewhere else is really a call from God?

  • Do you know your neighbors (people, flora, fauna)?

All the Links

Jess and I talk a lot about Regent College because that is where we met and became friends, and because it is such an amazing school! Check it out—classes for everybody in the summer, audio classes to download online, something for everyone!

“A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other's lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.” 

― Wendell Berry

Wallace Stegner Essay

The Matilda Saga by Jackie French

Waltzing Matilda

The Man from Snowy River

Along The Road to Gundagai

Dorothea Mackeller, poet

“And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home.” 

― Wendell BerryThe Unforeseen Wilderness: Kentucky's Red River Gorge

Sabbath Poems 2007: VI

Belong to your place by knowledge of the others who are

Your neighbors in it: the old man, sick and poor,

Who comes like a heron to fish in the creek,

And the fish in the creek, and the heron who manlike

Fishes for the fish in the creek, and the birds who sing

In the trees in the silence of the fisherman

And the heron, and the trees that keep the land

They stand upon as we too must keep it, or die.

This knowledge cannot be taken from you by power

Or by wealth. It will stop your ears to the powerful

when they ask for your faith, and to the wealthy

when they ask for your land and your work.

Answer with knowledge of the others who are here

And how to be here with them. By this knowledge

Make the sense you need to make. By it stand

In the dignity of good sense, whatever may follow.

(from Wendell Berry, This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New, 1979-2013, Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2013,  305.)

And…Asher’s Music!


Episode 1: Practice

This is the first episode of Tend, the podcast about the things we do and why they matter. I have been working on this, along with my co-host, Jess Graieg-Morrison, for a while, and I’m so excited to finally be able to share it with you! Today, it’s just me, Erin Ware, sharing my own story about how I became obsessed with studying about spiritual practices, and how you can leave a little room in your life to meet with God today.

Also, I want to make sure to say that the beautiful music heard in this podcast is by Asher Graieg-Morrison, Jess’s husband! I forgot to say that in this episode. Whoops!