Artful Land Care

Posts Tagged ‘Family’

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 »

Advertisements

White and the Need to Advance Beyond White Culture Mythology

In Peace & Justice on September 3, 2017 at 10:00 am

Mythology

Willian Kittredge wrote, “Mythology can be understood as a story that contains a set of implicit instructions from a society to its members, telling them what is valuable and how to conduct themselves if they are to preserve the things they value.”  In the US, a settling people clung so deeply to a mythology it became sanctified.

If one has been educated in the US school system, as I was—it matters little if it was public or private, they were taught to accept the sanctified mythology of…

There were a people who believed in freedom, not for one but for all, and who had a penchant for justice.  They came to this land on the eastern seaboard and after a few mishaps with local people and turning away from the controlling empires of the old land, they began moving west.  They were a rural people who worked hard.  Full of awe as they crossed a continent of beauty and wonder.  They were not without fear, but they were a people who bore down and created a land of peace and riches for their children, regardless of danger.  Yes, they displace the people who were already living in the land, but they also filled an unbroken land with the splendor of agriculture and Christianity.  The plow turned native soil and the land answered with an abundance of wheat, corn, and apples.  And where the plow could not turn soil, native plants allowed cattle to prosper.  These were a people of vision, faith, and wonderment.

Though mythical in nature, the story was sanctified in churches across the land as preachers spoke of them opening the US landscape as if they were the Israelites moving into Canaan.  There were some folk who spoke to the vile nature of the myth (and many fought and died to change it—writers, preachers, Freedom Riders, sages, marchers and protestors,) but a sanctified myth is hard to erase. Read the rest of this entry »

Arguing the Doctrine of Discovery’s Impact on LGBTQI Folk

In Doctrine of Discovery, Peace & Justice on May 7, 2017 at 10:00 am

During this last decade, the Doctrine of Discovery has become the underpinning on which to build an understanding of Indigenous history and modern reality.  Long in the coming—Vine Deloria Jr spoke to the need of academics and theologians to engage the Doctrine of Discovery nearly 50 years ago—the Doctrine of Discovery is a rubric to apprehend past genocidal practices and current Indigenous tragedy.

The full impact the Doctrine of Discovery (DoD) on the worlds Indigenous people is complex.  However, when it comes to the United States and Canada, the DoD caused a spectrum of hurt which effects Indigenous and non-indigenous people alike.  Recognizing the DoD impacts non-indigenous people raises the complexity of the DoD and alters the conversation.

While it is important to have a conversation on how the DoD has and does impact non-indigenous people in the United States (US) and Canada, it is equally important to say no group has known DoD caused hurt to the extent of Indigenous peoples.  Recognizing that reality is important to say when exploring DoD inflicted hurt upon non-indigenous people because some folk prefer to find arguments that might allow a community to ignore and forget past atrocities.  Developing such amnesia weakens and conceals the impact of the DoD in today’s context and ignores any though of Indigenous racism.  One such path toward forgetfulness is to create a construct where the DoD damages White non-indigenous people to the same extent of Indigenous peoples.  Therefore, it needs saying that while this writing explores the DoD’s damage to a community of people who are both Indigenous and non-indigenous, it is equally important to remember the genocidal impact inflicted by the DoD on the Indigenous people of the Americas is like nothing else.

****** Read the rest of this entry »

The Tussle of Blankets

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

170101

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

160710

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.

Fair Day

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

16.03.27

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 »

Fathers-In-Law

In Chores, Landscape, Theology on January 24, 2016 at 8:00 am

160124

January 24, 2016

A fog storm settled in around us as we worked the rail fence. We started setting posts in the last moments of autumn hoping to beat the winter cold. We didn’t make it. The cold barreled in and uncritical chores became critical and the remaining post and railing took a seat. Those chores ended just in time for winter days who freeze nose hairs as you step out of the house.

Cattle are a curious bunch. So there we were trying to lag rails to the few posts we’d set weeks ago, with steers breathing out great buffs of fog as we worked, each settling a foot above our heads. Before you knew it, it was hard to see Belinda at the end of a sixteen-foot board. You think it an exaggeration? Well, perhaps a bit. Just the same…

I could hear Belinda’s dad scoffing at us as we worked. “Four below zero? Well, let me tell you. I was returning home from school one day when mamma stopped and picked me up. ‘Buddy,’ she said, ‘Don’t you know it is 43 below!! You’ll freeze before you ever get home.’ Four below, …hmpff.” My figures numbed inside unlined leather gloves.

My response was non-verbal, Dad has been gone for nearly three years now, “Yeah, well Bud, that’s what you Swedes and Norwegians get for choosing North Dakota when you arrived in this landscape. Some of us had the good sense to head straight to warm land, like, say, south Texas and California.” The trouble with having in your head conversations is you start countering your own arguments and it is no longer Bud but myself saying, “Oh Yeah, then why the hell are you here at the end of a board in below freezing weather? Damn!” I continued bickering with Bud and myself until the last lag screw is twisted in. We packed up the tools and took them to the shed. Then headed up to the house, the woodstove, a cup of coffee, and verbal conversation—I’m sure I will pick up the conversation with Bud another day. Read the rest of this entry »

Family—99 %’s & Malheur

In Peace & Justice, YCM on January 10, 2016 at 9:24 am

160110

January 10, 2016

Never gave the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge much thought before? Neither had I. I traveled nearby, once, a few years ago. Heading south to the Steens Mountain Wilderness, I skirted by to the west on the two-lane highway. I probably passed a sign telling me to turn east to the Refuge, but I missed it the high desert of sky and sage. Though traveling at 55 mph doesn’t allow for much, you can still catch your breath in this beautifully rural and open landscape

I find it sad that the first time most US folk become aware of this landscape it is not for its beauty.

Enough has been said about the gun toting, cowboy hat wearing folk who are living at the Refuge these days. However, as one who wears a cowboy hat, hunts, and whom neighbors think of as the local liberal, here are two more cents.

It figure it was about the time I first heard about #YallQaeda and #VanillaISIS tweeting and folk wondering about calling this occupy movement domestic terrorism, that I began thinking about the Refugee occupiers and the now, mostly, defunct Occupy Movement/99 percent movement in the same light. Sure there is a difference between those who carry guns and those who don’t, but then again, who is feeling their lives are threatened by the few folk in the 10-30 degree weather of the east Oregon high desert, locals notwithstanding.

I find I agree about as much with the Refugee occupiers as I did with the Occupy Movement. In both cases, it seems most folk are/were about maintaining a middle (or higher) class existence for themselves. I want more land (the Refugee folk). I want a better job (the Occupy Movement). My friends who support one group or the other would say that is simplistic and it is more complicated than that. I’ll give you that. My question though, then as now, is when this is all over will you give of your time and resources to better the lives of those who have less? 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.

Prayer & “God Isn’t Fixing This”

In Peace & Justice, Theology on December 6, 2015 at 8:43 am

15.12.06

December 5, 2015

God Isn’t Fixing This and that is freaking people out.
****

Last Sunday, like many pastors, I stood before a congregation asked what folk were joyful about and what they were concerned about. A few joys, a few concerns, and Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood—seems like a long time ago now, doesn’t it?—were mentioned. And we prayed.

Tuesday I sat in the Living Room of a 64-year-old who lost his wife last May. We prayed.

Wednesday I sat in a coffee shop and listened as a fifty-something spoke about the hardships of life lived and hope of tomorrow. I prayed.

Thursday I walked the pasture and then to the edge of the creek. Frozen snow cracked underfoot, a sentry Quail yelled “Chicago,” and a coyote broke through the bush. I prayed.

And I am not much of a pray-er.
****

I have not read the NY Daily News article folk are talking about, but dealing with the headline words alone, I agree, God is not going to fix this problem of mass shootings or shootings at all. Hell, not only is Colorado Springs old news in light of San Bernardino, it is hard to remember the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon in October, and the February Pasco, Washington shooting-lynching of Antonio Zambrano-Montes is long since forgotten. There is no prayer, to any God “out there,” that is going to fix or end the killings of our brothers and sisters.

Yet prayer matters because a bit of the Creator resides in all of Creation. Within Creation, within folk is the restorative creativeness that will bring about harmony. The first step, for those who pray, toward finding restorative creativeness is prayer. Prayer helps the pray-er grasp they have the Creators creative ability to bring about health, wellbeing, and balance. The pray-er can actively heal.

Healing, though, comes by perceiving prayer and creativeness as words of action. Neither is passive. Both are proactive. Prayer and creativeness are causative rather than inert or lifeless and calls for advance action rather than scrabbling response. Healing occurs when the pray-er gains strength from prayer to actively engage change.
****

God Isn’t Fixing This, but the people of God can.