Artful Land Care

Posts Tagged ‘Community’

Learners Permit

In Reflections on October 29, 2017 at 10:00 am

“She’s getting her Learners Permit.”  Everyone who’s been in church during Prayers for Joy and Concerns knows the next comment, “Both a joy and concern.”  Prior knowledge didn’t matter, folks laughed.  Ever since that first day a teenage-adult got their hands on a car the community’s had a nervous laugh.

We were thirty-two with two daughters and a new Ford pickup truck, gray.  Two days after buying the truck a bit of buyer’s remorse settled in.  We had committed ourselves to another $18,000.  And I had trouble shaking the adage, You lose a third of the value the moment you drive it off the lot.  Some decisions we just learn to live with.

A few dents and years down the road the gray truck pulled out of the driveway.  In the hands of a Learners Permit.  Fourteen years of gravel roads, construction sites, and overloading the pickup bed a few too many times had taken their toll on the truck.  The truck handled the road just fine.  Though the steering wandered in an experiential way.  However, if a learner can handle a steering wheel with two inches of leeway before moving right or left and still keep the truck between the lines, they are sure to do just fine when they move from truck to car with much less metal surrounding them.  As a matter of course, I figured it best not to ask my neighbors their opinion of such wandering thinking.  For it might be something more than a nervous church laugh. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Tussle of Blankets

In Reflections, Theology on January 1, 2017 at 5:03 pm

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A dozen folk journey this Tuesday to gather at water’s edge.  Each have their own “why” to stand on the Missouri River bank at the border of the Standing Rock Reservation.  Their whys are as broad as their ages—teens to seventies—walking an expanse of personal to spiritual.  As vast as those reasons are, the bedding of most are in Creational relationship.

When it comes to engaging the tussle of blankets under which Creation playfully crafts relationship and imagination, it is apparent we Church folk have failed to aspire high enough.  Rather than birthing wonder, we people of this era have segmented creation.  In that segmentation, we have separated ourselves from creational wonder in as real a way that the 1896 Supreme Court decision of Plessy v. Ferguson segregated people.  Unlike our (great) grandfolk at the turn of the century who knew a deer track, the turn of soil, the back of a horse, walking a mile to visit a neighbor, or the location of the countryside’s water holes, our children seldom know the taste of dirt, and afternoon of catching pollywogs, or spending a night under the stars with only a sleeping bag.  When one losses the taste of dirt or the feel of a tadpole squiggling in hand, so do they lose the imagination and the revelation that one is not alone.

To lose the earths saltiness is to know loneliness and loss of community, which only leaves the air of individualism.  Mindsets settle into believing “I am the only one who can…” and the absolute need of neighbor is relegated off to some bygone era.

Life is much easier when putting the idea of rugged individualism off to the colonial settler rather than this era.  However the rugged individual was of books and folk lore, which served the power structure of government, business, and Church well.  But seldom true.  Rather than fools of individualism, settlers were families of communities.  However, their lives might have served the wealthy and powerful, they were not wholly unlike their ancestors or the people on whose land they were occupying—these folk were far from individualistic in nature. Read the rest of this entry »

Tavern’s and Beer

In Reflections on July 10, 2016 at 5:38 pm

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July 10, 2016

I sat across the table from a social worker as she told her story.  She had been at a nursing home early that afternoon.

“I spoke to the sister of the woman who is living in the nursing home.  She told me her sister was a little agitated this day and wanted to get out of bed.”  (Her sister had dementia in addition to an illness she was no longer fighting.).

“As we talked her sister was trying to get out of bed again.  She turned to me and said, ‘would you watch her for a minute while I go get the nurse?’  Sure, I said.”

“As she walked out of the room I asked, ‘why do you want to get out of bed?  Where are you planning to go?’  She said, ‘to the Tavern.’  About that time her sister returned with the nurse.  ‘Why do you want to go to the Tavern?’ I asked.  ‘To get a drink.’”

“The nurse smiled and said, ‘no problem.’  I finished my conversation with them and left, oh, maybe twenty minutes later.  A few hours later, I called to see how things went after I left.  The patient’s sister said, ‘very well.  Not long after you left the nurse went to the store, bought a beer, brought it back, and give it to my sister.  She LOVED it!’  That was all she needed, to be heard and to have a beer!”

Paying close attention to the landscape speaks to the need to accept there is much to hear, even when socially developed sensibilities say there is nothing to hear. You might say the songbird’s song is often more than a song.

The same holds for our human kin whom seem to live on the other side of what society might think of as presence.  The other sided is seldom what it appears.  Often there is a fullness of life even when it seems not.  For the spirit of this existence is rich, even in the hardness of an individual not seeming to be who they were yesterday.  Knowing such richness is accepting the change of life from the cognizant to dementia is as valuable and meaningful as a toddler moving from single words to full sentences.  While it is certainly a struggle, at times, to be present with kin who live on the other side of what was yesterday’s normal, great joy is possible in the simple act of hearing and having a beer.

Twisted Wire

In Poetry on June 12, 2016 at 8:00 am

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hands of long ago,
repair barb wire fence,
of hands long ago

Fair Day

In Animals, Reflections, Theology on June 5, 2016 at 6:00 pm

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March 27, 2016

Each fall we take time off and head to the Central Washington Fair. Less than an hour from the farm, it is a great place to have a family day. There is a little something for everyone. You cannot go to the fair and not meet a neighbor or two. And we’re always sure to take any visiting friends; it is a nice way to get an overview of the farming and ranching in the county, all in one place.

If nothing else, you’ll get your daily walk in at the fair. From barns to the commercial building, we make our way from one end to the other. All the while being astonished by how gifted our county people are. Not far into the walk and it soon becomes clear folk across the county have many interests and they learn them well. A favorite of mine is the quilting barn. Quilting is something I have no interest in learning or taking up, but you have to give it to quilters. Quilts are where art, mathematics, and skill combine to expose just how wonderful and detailed our imagination is. Quilting is also one of those crafts which bring the elderly and the young together. Hanging from walls is the most carefully stitched quilt of an arthritic elder next to the first quilt of young smooth faced girl. Quilting is certainly family-neighborly art.

It isn’t a fair without visiting the canned goods barn. Just as artful as quilting it is good to know canning is making something of a comeback these days. I hope to trend continues to increase and there is some evidence of that in the barn. Bottles of pears, peaches, rhubarb, apples, strawberries, string beans, peas, and corn line one shelf after another. 4-H and FFA Youth, as you might expect, have their jams and preserves on display for folk to wonder over. Yet there are also jars from children and youth who are not in an organization. It might be conjecture, but I believe more grandparents are finding canning with their grandchildren a time to expose them to the wonders of good food and good storytelling. Whether it is prepping beans or slicing peaches or water bathing, canning is a time to tell the old stories and develop a few for tomorrow. Read the rest of this entry »

Bettering Structure By Stepping Back

In Reflections, Theology on April 24, 2016 at 8:00 am

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April 24, 2016

We had a busy afternoon last Sunday.  The Democrat’s came to town to work out the next level of delegates for the State and national convention.  Since we were delegates for this first round, Belinda and I figured we should show up.

I am a Hilary guy and argued on her behalf with my neighbors, for a number of reasons.  Foremost, because she is a woman.  It is a simple arguments, but one which has governed other conversations this last year.

In 2017, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will vote for a new General Minister and President (GMP)—think of the GMP of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) like the Pope for Catholics, but a much, much smaller organization.  When 2017 roles around, Disciples will have lived with their first woman (ever) for twelve years.  Moving toward the next GMP takes years and the search is on.  I find my arguments for the next GMP are the same for Clinton.

My argument begins with that calendar like poster on the wall in my second grade class.  Flowing from left to right and top to bottom were pictures of US presidents starting with George Washington.  The poster, other than with a few more presidents is the same that hung on the wall of my children’s class wall, and I assume one can be found on elementary school class walls today.  There is really only one difference between the poster on my wall and the poster today.  My day had pictures of white man after white man after white man after white man after white man, whereas today instead of ending with a white man it ends with a black man.  If Disciples had a similar church poster it would look much the same, white man, white man, white man, white man, white man, white man, ending, today, with woman. Read the rest of this entry »

Showing Up

In JustLiving Farm, Reflections on March 27, 2016 at 6:55 pm

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March 27, 2016

About a dozen folk were already in the high school when we arrived.  This was caucus day.  Caucusing is still a bit weird for us.  Before we first came to Washington State, we simply went to the local high school and placed our ballot.  Now living in a caucus state, we sit with folk in our community, argue for whom we believe would best represent our community, and choose delegates for the candidates selected.

Caucusing began an hour after we arrived, so we watched as folk arrived and slowly filled the tables of each precinct.  We sat at the 4001 precinct table.  Folk filled the tables to the north and south, and to the east and west.  We waited.  When time came to caucus, most all the tables were filled, except one to the west, which like ours, had two people.

There is something about showing up.  This Easter day, the day after caucusing, has much to say about just showing up.  No one chanced showing up at the tomb, but the women.  Showing up though meant they had the opportunity to speak with a couple of dazzling men (Lk. 24:4).  That morning, those women lived through something no one experienced before or ever again—except through the stories they told.  There is something about showing up.

At the end of the day, for the hundred or so square miles of our precinct, two people chose two delegates.  The same held true from the precinct table to the west of us.  Sure, how few people were at the tables have a lot to say to just how many democrats live within these hundred square miles.  Yet it also has much to say of what it means not to show up.  The power of many is relinquished to the few.

The experience has much to say to those who wonder about the value of my vote.  For on this one day, in the State of Washington, the delegates who are to represent the people of hundreds of square miles of the American landscape, who in turn will help decide who the next president of the United States might be, were decided by four people.

There is something about just showing up.

Herd Teachings

In Landscape, Theology on February 14, 2016 at 8:00 am

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February 14, 2016

The mamma cow nudged her calf away as I and the dog neared. On down the fence line another yelled at her calf for hanging out near the fence. As we walked, another pushed three calves until they followed her into the field. Mid-winter walks mean most calves are birthed and on the ground learning what it means to be calf.

Being herd critters, cows teach calves how to be herd members. While cows take care of their own, they are not above nudging another’s calf into attention. Instinctively, they know the wellbeing of the herd is dependent on knowledge gained by their neighbor’s calf as well as their own. Herds survive only if they know and engage this simple principle—the wellbeing of my calf is dependent on the survival knowledge my neighbor’s calf. When this principle is not learned, the herd suffers.

Thursday morning, I arrived at the local coffeehouse—a time to catch up with folk, meet new folk, and get a little work done. A friend shared a full-page ad in the Seattle Times taken out by The Greater Good Campaign—coffeehouse mornings mean I don’t have to read every paper to get insights from the local paper, The Seattle Times, and The Wall Street Journal. The ad noted that 20,000 Washington students will not graduate high school this year. Read the rest of this entry »

Peace Through Allies

In Peace & Justice on January 31, 2016 at 8:35 am

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January 31, 2015

Friends often make you think. Not a bad thing, but often a hard thing. Thought, while good, is not always good or risky enough without verbalization. Shayne and Sandhya, I figure, know that, which, maybe, is why last October they asked what I thought about the blog Please Stop Being a Good White Person (TM). Thinking about it wasn’t enough. I would have to risk voice. Something I seldom enjoy on edgy issues. Well, five months is enough time to stew over it.

The blogger uses a quote from Dr. Kings Letter from a Birmingham Jail,

“Over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”

We all like Dr. King quotes, don’t we? Yet, we seldom see ourselves on the challenged end of the quote. The problem Dr. King addresses here is that of ally. He speaks about justice orientated folk who are about change, but fear what might happen to their reputation if their heart is voiced (hmm, like me for the last five months?); and the perceived communal stability that exists with the no comment negative peace.

Some sixty years later I find I line up closer with Johan Galtung’s understanding of negative peace than I do with Dr. King’s. I figure there is plenty of tension lying just below the communal surface now (listen to the tone of the blog) and in King’s era. The peace known in society, now and then, is not the absence of tension, but the absence of violence. Which for my money means, no one should be surprised if the boiling tension below the surface ends up blowing the lid off the teakettle. Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome

In Art, Landscape, Poetry on November 29, 2015 at 8:00 am

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soil lines
beckon wonderment
of foot, mind, spirit