Artful Land Care

Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

Midsummers

In Seasons, Theology on August 26, 2018 at 10:00 am

There’s something about a summer sky that calls one to think of what is good.  There is too much talk about what is bad.  That’s plain enough listening to NPR in the morning or the evening news.  Too bad folk cannot find more good to talk about. Too bad too many people who should be leaders are so puffed up about themselves that themselves is all they seem to have to talk about and that just comes across as bad.

Midsummer clouds are unlike those of any other season.  They carry plainness of sureness.  Unlike spring clouds who puff themselves up as something to be reckoned with, the midsummers low and unassuming billows beg certitude.  Their simple ordinariness and off-handed confidence calls the wise to find shelter when day slides to evening and the lingering heat vaporizes and swirls into thunderheads.  Then is a time to wait.  And listen.  What was once shy and indifferent unfolds across the heights lighting the nocturnal and hollering just because.  Good listening lies in the reticent and reluctant.

At the edge of rough thorn grease brush stands a morning rabbit taking in low, driftless midsummers.  A hawk circles as they gather above; one into another.  Only to stretch and pull apart on the back of a breeze rising. Holding back, not making too much of themselves; rabbit and hawk wonder how these who linger quietly might be so presumptuous in the dark.  Both grounded and flighted struggle to concentrate on danger and hunger as the morning midsummers beg a seldom enjoyed depth of blue from the rinsed summer sky.  A firmament of poets.  A firmament which lies the backs of children and elders to the ground.

Firm ground to back.  A wisp of the poetical.  Good in the summer sky.  A thought. A wonder.  A “what if.”  The sacrament of the low and driftless might be enough to realize Good creation if the puffed and simple, friend and enemy, neighbor and rival lay upon the terra of their being and wondered at the enchanting of the midsummer.

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Standing Rock 2018

In YCM on June 13, 2018 at 12:00 pm

I’ve known about the Mandan people for more time than most westerners west of the Rockies.  Mostly because I married into a North Dakota family.  As one might suspect my knowledge was rather lacking as a white non-Native marrying into a white non-Native family. Of course my schooling was lacking in the Nativeness of the landscape as well.  My education was better than many, I figure, because my junior and high school years were the years of the Red Power movement.  Not only did I have access to nightly news events: Occupation of Alcatraz Island 1969-71, Wounded Knee incident 1973, but I went to a fairly progressive High school for the era that allowed for an edgy curriculum that include Native American studies.  Once I get to the bottom of it though, I knew nothing of indigenous history by the time I graduated High School.

Since last Saturday I have been hanging with a number of High School students in North Dakota, on the Standing Rock Reservation where Dakota and Lakota (mostly) people live.  The reservation itself is a small piece of what was once the Great Sioux Reservation, which went through a great reduction after gold was found in the Black Hills in the early 1870’s—enough of that though, typical history can be looked up.  I find myself on the reservation because of two people, Laurie Pound-Feille and Bill Spangler-Dunning.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Dark of Being Them

In Peace & Justice on December 11, 2017 at 9:19 am

6:15 in the morning and it is winter dark.  The calendar say autumn, but autumn left the landscape weeks ago.  Was it summer “outside,” work would have commenced an hour ago. Visioning of lighted mornings is lost in this dark of near solstice.  Dark thinking replaces visioning on these unlighted mornings.  Thoughts of vindictiveness, “I told you so,” and the brutality—I try hard to hide—bubble up like the foul gasses of childhoods landlocked ponds.

The downfall of so many in so little time: Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Al Franken, Kevin Spacey.  The list goes on.  To place a name at the top of the list is impossible.  The tearing of women’s bodies, emotions, intellect, spirit has gone on so long no one remembers the first.  One might choose an ancient event, such as David and his rape of Bathsheba.  Or one go with modernity and the boastful recording of sexual violence of one, whom like David, so many preferred to lead a nation.  And in the midst of so much, who would be surprised—after having presidential support hung him like a medal of honor—if normal, everyday, Alabama folk elected Roy Moore to office tomorrow?

**** Read the rest of this entry »

Heavens Cry

In Doctrine of Discovery, Landscape on December 4, 2017 at 8:02 am

We have become people who can live without the wild.  We will watch The Reverant and imagine and talk about the wild 1800’s.  We will ride a ski lift, look across vast lands of wild and imagine being wild as we ski alongside hundreds on the downslope.  We day hike in refuges and National Parks and think we are one with the wild.  But we believe we can live without it.

As President Trumps emasculates Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments today, it is hard to imagine him having ever backpacked the high country or the low country.  Though carrying all argumentative swagger boasting style of Teddy Roosevelt, he brings the modern dream of timber rather than trees and oil-copper-fracking rather than landscape.  Though the act is deplorable, the reduction of wild fits the US mindset of a growing-building economy rather than a maintaining-healing-imagining economy.

The loss is more than a loss of wild in favor of land development.  The loss tears at the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of people and animals and plants and soil.  Life, in all forms, live better when the imagination allows for the unknown around the next corner.  Vision of the unknown is something American settlers and American Natives had in common.  Read the rest of this entry »

Not Probable, But Believable

In Peace & Justice, Theology on December 27, 2015 at 8:00 am

151227

December 27, 2015

Snow crunched as we walked to the truck. Christmas morning, 5:30am, 4 degrees, and a full moon had the landscape glimmering and welcoming in mystical, frozen sort of way. Little is like the sharpness stars take on when the air crackles. Thus an unexpected gift, I gave no thought to fifteen minutes earlier while pulling on boots next to the fire knowing the outside is cold enough to freeze nose hairs. Moments, when the world enters into sharp focus is unbelievable, yet believable.

Belinda drove as I tossed one alfalfa flake after the other from the back of the truck. Cattle followed until they figured one flake is as good as another and got to eating. Settled into routine, I wondered, then remembered a friend using a clip from C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where Lucy Pevensie first walks through the Wardrobe, to open the Advent season in her church. When Lucy backs out of the wardrobe into a place of snow, so unexpected, the moment becomes mystical. As she chances movement away from the wardrobe and into a wonder snow filled forest, she comes upon a lamppost. Forest, snow, and a lighted lamppost, unbelievable, but Lucy is standing in its midst, therefore believable.

Leather gloves only go so far in the cold and as numb fingers dropped the last flakes I wondered more and stumbled upon the Pauline letter of Colossians and the words, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another… forgive each other… be thankful… teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.” Maybe it was the cold, maybe the numbness was spreading, but in the dark of Christmas morning, the thought of compassion and kindness coupled with humility and meekness was unbelievable…yet… believable.

Imagine your, mine, our community where every person lives in a warm home? We all know this reality is not probable in our time, but don’t we all know it is possible? Read the rest of this entry »

Evenings of Lefsa, Pozole, And Black Eye Peas

In Reflections on December 20, 2015 at 10:58 am

15.12.20

December 20, 2015 

When fall reaches the latter days of December life in the valley is more winter than autumn. Days are noticeably shorter than a month ago. Temperature highs are two layers of long sleeves and a vest on warm days; all that and a coat, hood, and gloves—and there is still a chill in your britches—on cold days. The night air is no longer a fall crisp but moonless and frigid whose clarity lowers stars to where you can see their breath.

The calendar on the kitchen wall speaks about the solstice being hours rather than days away. Morning fog lifts off the frosted back of steers as they eat hay spread upon snow covered pasture. Cows and thrower of hay, alike, need not a calendar to tell them winter has arrived in the valley.

Now is the season of stories and food.

Folk have long known the solstice as week of storytelling and food. In the time of year where little to no food is grown, now is the time to gather the folk in warm space, square up the food, tell stories and gain a little fat—for the coldest of days are ahead.

This week is the time trade in the gossip and like of the political and business in favor of new and old stories of friend and kin. Perhaps hold on to a Christmas cookie or two, but bring in the heavy hitters like Lefsa, Pozole, and Black Eye Peas—sustenance to sustain good solid stories of naked babies, the fall hunt, and lovers. Gather the folk—maybe more than once—and eat and listen and watch. Watch the winkled elders who grin at the story, who close eyes, nap for a moment, and who look at one another with those clear eyes of age and smile with a knowledge we may know one day. Watch the young lovers who sit near one another, who feign listening, but are too full of one another to pay much attention. Storytelling is nothing if not also the real time stories played out in the tellings.

In a few hours comes the longest of nights, a magical time of sorts. Might as well enjoy it to its fullest. Gather, eat, notice the cat lying in the warmth of the woodstove or heater vent, and listen…listen, for the spiritual is possible during this moment of enchanted seasonal change.

Forever Learning, Forever Teaching

In JustLiving Farm, Landscape, SAGE Quest, YCM on June 21, 2015 at 8:00 am

15.06.21

June 21, 2015

[Post By Selys Rivera: Yakama Christian Mission Intern 2015]

There it sat, promising it could get me to where I needed to go if I only had the patience – a 1986 Nissan pickup truck.

The yellow paint was faded with age. The trunk suffered from something similar to tendinitis. The steering wheel sometimes took a bit of muscle, frustration, light perspiration, and mumbled swear words to turn. The driver’s side door was temperamental, refusing to lock from the inside and only locking from the outside when it felt like it. Despite all of this, though, the old King Cab had some fight left in it yet.

There was only one inconvenience keeping me from eagerly taking it for an exploratory ride around Yakima County. The little yellow intern truck David and Belinda Bell had lent me for the summer had a manual transmission. Since I only knew how to drive automatic, I knew I had some learning to do if I was going to be a productive intern for the Yakama Christian Mission.

I was suddenly sixteen again. Every driving skill I mastered in the last five years was set back to a beginner level. It was more than the difficult aspects too, such as driving in reverse or doing a three-point turn. I couldn’t even press the gas without making the truck jerk, sometimes stalling in traffic. My face would turn the same shade of red as whatever stop sign or light I had jerked to a standstill in front of that day. Each time, I felt like the truck was taking me by the shoulders and shaking me in frustration. My goodness! Get your act together. What an embarrassment.

The truck wasn’t the only one frustrated. I wanted to shake the truck back. “Don’t you think I’m trying?” I mentally retaliated. “Give me a break! This isn’t as easy as it looks.” Then my left foot would prematurely depart from the clutch and the truck would stall again. I smacked my forehead against the stubborn steering wheel several times. Read the rest of this entry »

The Richness of Suicide, The Lack of Sin, and Robin Williams

In JustLiving Farm, YCM on March 29, 2015 at 8:00 am

15.03.29

March 29, 2015

(The media is deliberating if this weeks tragedy of Germanwings Flight 9525 is a suicide. Having written prior to the crash, I don’t deal with the tragedy. However, I will say at this early moment after the crash, I believe when one takes the lives of others along with their own, it is not an act of suicide, but something very different. What that difference is, I don’t know.)

A friend of mine, Daniel, sent me a note soon after Robin Williams’ suicide last August. The note has nagged me ever since. He gave a few of his thoughts on Williams and suicide and asked if I might have a few of my own. Schooled in a Catholic high school, Daniel received an earful on the sin of suicide from a particular perspective. Gaining the wisdom that comes with living life, he is now a young adult who has allowed the idea of suicide as a Cardinal sin barring one from heaven to go by the wayside. As he puts it, “how can a truly all loving God turn his back on someone who is filled with so much dread, torment, and affliction that in their greatest time of need his love would not be shared?” Fleshing out his thoughts, he answered his own nagging questions. Good for him, but that did not get me off the hook.

When it comes to suicide, there is little difference between my protestant upbringing and my friend’s Catholic high school. The elders and pastors of the Christian church of my youth were clear suicide is a sin and if you choose such you’re going to hell. No much slack on this one.

Suicide didn’t come up much in my young life. Once, in the preteen years, a friend headed home from a day of hiking Iron Canyon and came across a pickup truck parked at the end of road that was hardly more than a trail. Read the rest of this entry »

Dressing For Wellness

In Reflections, YCM on October 11, 2014 at 6:00 am

14.10.11

October 11, 2014

After living a number of years on a farm a friend noted that before coming to the farm he had no idea how well versed his children would become in death. The line between death and life on a farm is not a thick one—nor should it be, for death should be as natural as life whether on a farm or in the city. Whether one plants crops or raises animals, a balance exists between planting and birth, harvest and death. For animal raisers, the butcher date arrives eventually. For crop folk, harvest leads to spring plowing where all sorts of life—gophers, rabbits, voles, and bugs are lost. Done well, farm life is a harmonious interplay between life and death.

I’ve another friend who is spending some of his time writing essays dealing with death and death rituals. His What happens to village death rituals when people move to town? has me pondering a common local death ritual that today is uncommon in most of our communities -The Dressing.

Though uncommon today, the 1984 movie Places in the Heart has a scene that tells how normal the ritual of dressing once was. Sheriff Royce Spalding, who lives at the edge of town, is called away from his meal. While away he is accidently shot and dies. Four local men bring the body back home. As they enter the home, one quickly takes a lone plate off the dining table and lays it on the sideboard. Read the rest of this entry »

Downtown Cross-Street

In Reflections on December 25, 2013 at 6:55 am

13.12.25

December 25, 2013

The door banged open and Arnie blew in with the Santa Ana’s (that’s wind for the non-southern California folk).  “I just got off that L.A. freeway without getting killed or caught,” he said.  We knew what he meant.  Every one of us had spent time on California freeways to get to this room.  If L.A. freeways are good for anything else, they always make you feel like you’ve accomplished something making it to your destination in one piece!  But when an armadillo says without getting killed or caught (Had I said Arnie’s an armadillo?  We’re all uniquely created, but ya gotta admit, there’s something a bit different when it comes to armadillo’s.) you get one of those chicken crossing the L.A. freeway images and, well, Arnie probably had his heart beating a bit more than normal a time or two.

“I thought I’d left the key in the ‘ol’ front door lock,” Arnie said, “but, then, we got something to believe in, don’t you think?”  We sat there looking at Arnie and no clue as to what he was talking about.  But that was nothing new, Arnie often kept us a notch off center, wondering.

“I walked through the downtown yesterday, he said.  The streets were filled with laughter and light…and the music of the season.  We looked at each other and wondered what in the world was Arnie doing downtown?  There always a risk when any of us visit the city, but an armadillo, downtown, with foot and car traffic, in this season!  Well you’ve gotta give some thought to how well he’s tracking!  Arnie went on, “as I walked I got those stares, you know the ones.  It was all a little surreal, there is something about when their christmas comes they tense-up and focus on possessions.  You’d think the act of giving to their relations would be a good time, but many seem to walk with smiles on their faces while the season turns their temple to a robber’s den.”  We were tracking him, more or less, but one couldn’t be sure.

“I came to the corner of 25th and Chris Street,” he said.  “There was this old boy in worn out shoes, sitting on the curb.  Read the rest of this entry »