Monday, July 25, 2005

farm trip

over a week ago, ryan and i went to a local farm to help out a bit and see where food comes from. we had planned to do a more in-depth post on food and sustainability and wedellberryesque type stuff but time marched on and before you know it we have never written anything.
so here is a short post...

in short: we believe there is something sacred about reclaiming a respect and knowledge about where our food comes from. it is our hope that we can get to know a farmer, eat the food he helps create, participate in the miracle oursleves, and somehow enter deeper into grace and gratitude.

in practice: we are growing our own food in our backyards and in urban gardens. we are investing in (buying shares - see link) and getting to know our local farmers.

you can find out more about ways to connect with your local farmers here.

ryan working VERY hard

ryan and farmer david

mountain view

goats (great milk and cheese...mmmm)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

from africa

This is the return of the prodigal blogger. Let me begin by apologizing for contributing absolutely nothing to the group effort over the last several aeons. But I could not resist sharing the following two e-mails that I recently received from my friend Tamale in Uganda. Some of you might remember the story of Tamale & Engle, which I shared at the footwashing ceremony during Holy Week. For of those of you who do not, Tamale is a muslim convert to Christ, disowned by his family, who chose to take into his home a little girl (Engle) who was apparently being tortured and abused by her father. Since Uganda has nothing (to the best of my knowledge) even remotely similar to child protective services, Tamale worked out a handwritten agreement with the local police precinct that gave him custody of Engle (I actually saw the agreement while in Luwafu). Tamale gave an amazing testimony at a meeting that James and I attended, saying that he felt inspired by God to take Engle into his home as a way of thanking God for all of his goodness and grace. Sadly, as the text below indicates, we have received some difficult and all too common news concerning Engle's plight. I wanted to share it as a prayer request, and as a way of helping to diffuse my own grief. I have been in recent contact with Tamale (although I'm not always as prompt as I should be), and I still have a lot of hope for this situation and for the future of our work in Africa and elsewhere. We are trying to assist he and Engle as best we can. Their plight recalls to mind for me Psalm 126, which says, "Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest." This is the hope to which we cling as we confront the darkness of the world with the love of Christ. Thanks.........

(An e-mail forwarded to me by Linda Hutchinson)
Dear Sir,
I would like to thank you for all you`re doing over there also to request you send my greetings to the rest of members.
It was on 28-06-05 when I finished my final exams out of which I expect good results .Engle is not good at all because if I had had money on me she was suposed to be admited in the hospital and one of the tests they carried out on her proved that she is HIV (positive ) , other people say that I should take her back to her family there is none to show her love at all , for this case I`d like to request you advise me .
May you please send the same greetings to brother Bily because he never replies when I write .
God Bless you,

(An e-mail sent to me by Tamale)
Dear Sir,

It is my pleasure to hea r that Engle and I are still close to your heart , I felt happy when you sent me such an encouraging message ; throgh Psalms 41:1-13,I thank God for using you . One of Engle`s heaviest part of life is this because in addition to being suspected of being HIV positive, they are saying she has a hole near the lunhs as a result of the severe mistreatment for which her general care is proving to be harder but I don`t have an appropriate word to use as a way of expressing my joy to you for what you are labouring to do for the better up-keep of us .
I am not a whize at mathematics but of all signs used in it , + ,x ' these have a wider room in my heart , so with you it is my joy to hear that 02-08-05 will mark the start of our love being with us .
I request you to read Jeremayah 32:2 ,andJeremayah 33:26 for madam Maria ; 25678649957 is my mobile phone number and in all things I would like to remind you that our God t6he starter of nice jobs will always acomplish them ,continue keeping us in prayer .

God Bless You ,

Monday, July 18, 2005

Gaps In Immortality

I grew up a pretty lucky person, in the country. This entails a lot of outdoor activity and a lot of hard living, because kids growing up in the country have to make there own fun. This “fun” usually involved a very high risk of bodily harm and with every birthday the risk of injury grows exponentially. Imagine a boy with 500 acres of land, a 4x4 jeep, a tractor, alcohol, and, of course, firearms. This situation was usually compounded by the presents of peer pressure from about 3 or 4 other teenage boys. Now, what our parents were thinking letting us have this type of freedom, I don’t know, but it was real easy to be unsupervised in this much space.
As one can imagine I got hurt a lot. I was involved in 5 vehicle wrecks – one of which made my truck look like a compacted beer can. I was involved in one accidental shooting, three dislocated joints, a sum total of about 45 stitches, and a year and a half of continuous physical therapy over the course of 5 years. This laundry list does not include all the vehicles, tractors, and 4 wheelers I screwed up over that period. One would think I would have a pretty good understanding of mortality, but you would be wrong. I thought I was immortal.
For the most part, I still act and think like I am immortal. My mortality only comes to the surface on rare occasions when I mentally or psychically look death in the face. As I was in the middle of one of these gaps in immortality this past week, I realized how much I take life for granted. But I am not sure if functionally you can live any other way than to take life for granted. What would a modern day life look like that had a healthy balance of mortality and immortality?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

learning stuff

I'm having a hard time getting into the Bible right now. So, go figure, God's going to teach me about Himself through folks around me. The Great Teacher came to visit me yesterday-at the roller skating rink of all places. I take care of an 8-year old girl with behavioral disorders who had the worst day she's had in my seven months of working with her. She was lying on the floor of the skating rink whining for someone to help her (she can actually skate-she was just testing me). When i told her that it was time to leave-she grabbed a child's ankle and pulled him down. The fear in his eyes just hurt the heart. Her behavior was definitely spiraling down. Why, God, is this my burden now? Before I knew it, she grabs the hair on the top of my scalp and pulls for two minutes. I think it's still bruised up there. In comes God's grace, through Michelle and Desiree. I'll probably never see these women again. They pried her hands from my hair and helped me restrain her while I called for help on Desiree's cell phone. They sat there with me for 10 minutes (or longer) restraining her until help came. They, unfortunately, also suffered minor injuries from the incident. To watch this child go through this broke my heart. This is where humility was shining her face. There's really nothing I could do to snap her out of it. I began to suffer with her. Sobbing with her. It hurt (in many ways).I'm learning to understand gentleness. God has been teaching me this through pain and drawn blood. I can't respond to her the way I want to-by knocking her block off. I've got to respond with loving, gentle hands. She's so sensitive to that. Anyway, God's still on my case despite my lack of interest in the Bible. Maybe I'm learning more. Maybe He's taking me the long way back to the Bible. Maybe He just wants to show me His face. I'll certainly keep on looking.

Monday, July 11, 2005

a picture of jesus

In the midst of the most recent gallery hop night, Jodie and I found John and his art in a room covered with his creatures, and filled with people. The first thing I ever said to him was, "What made you put a penis on Jesus?" He had a lot of works featuring Christ in contexts other than those favored by organized religion (note my carefulness here). In an effort to not misrepresent John, I'll just say that some of the Jesuses had leather jackets, many had penises--there was a lot going on. In answer to my question, John smiled and explained that it was his understanding that Jesus was likely to have had a penis, and that nobody seems to want to talk about this. (It is true: even in a recent film touted as being painfully realistic with regard to violence, the director chose to tastefully conceal the Lord's genitals.) A brief talk ensued, and soon we were off to the next gallery.

A week later I was at John's again, buying one of his Christs (one where he is fully clothed, but in which the Lord's pupils are dialated for some reason.) We got to talking about his childhood, and his involvement with Church. He used to play in an old cinderblock church near his home, and he was sure his irreverence would be punished. As much as some of his paintings may have been offensive, John was disarming--easy to talk to.

And as we talked, I couldn't help but want him to come share his thoughts in our conversation on Sunday mornings. I wanted him to come, more for us than for him. So I actually brought it up. I felt like I did in high school, inviting a stranger to youth group. He kindly explained that sleep is too precious to him, but that our conversation had been meaningful to him. It was at this point that some learning began for me. John said that our talk had been meaningful because our divinities had met. There was a touch of the divine in me, and a touch in him, as there is a touch in every human. When we meet in love and respect, the divine is affirmed. This helps him to respect people he can't stand but has to deal with (I assume I am not in this category for John, but maybe). This was his motivation for right action.

This was so great for me to hear. I tend to err on the side of mistaking humanity as being fatally flawed. People constantly disappoint me; I often resent them/us. I forget these very ones are bearing God's image. I like the idea of carrying divinity around with me. Then I left the gallery with a painting of Jesus. I had the honor of walking home with Jesus. A part of me wanted to show everybody what John had done. I was looking for neighbors, looking for Jodie. At the same time I was afraid of not being worthy of bearing this image around town. I was a little embarrassed to have this Jesus in my hand. By the time I got home I was glad to bring him in and shut the door. I am the work that is in progress.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

unimpressive but going places

this is us getting together to be reminded about who we are and whose we are. we gather in public which is a new and (i believe) import practice for us. by gathering in a public space (especially outdoors) we are scaled down to human size and we get a better sense of just how small we are. it is the opposite effect of gathering as church in a massive sanctuary with thousands of people where the whole world is shut out and all of God (it might seem) is inside with us. it seems to me that one of the best things we can do as humans is to be conscious of being restricted to a particular place while considering the cosmic scope of God's loving, missional reach. this practice will slowly engender an awareness of the unrelenting and gracious movement of God's embodied love from the particular to the universal...and back again.

this image brought a quote to mind (if you want to read more about the book this quote comes from, look over here) .

"The church is never far from the insignificance of Jesus and his band of unimpressive followers. It is always setting out from the particular in the direction of God's incalculable gift of everything." (p.18, Bible and Mission)

Friday, July 01, 2005

some Mountain Justice Summer pics

a kind thanks to us from the MJS crew...

Billy, Sherry, and the Samsons at the rally...

gathering at the High Street House after the rally and march...

some local art (3rd St Stuff Coffee)