Farmers Market

As I round the corner
a palette of wonders spread out before me
the smell of fresh bread drifts toward me
A line up of vegetables and fruits
 delight the eye
plump peaches, nectarines, and apples
 line up in a juicy chorus line
 Lettuce graces the tables in their varied frills of green
 bright orange carrots with dark green tops call to me … take me home
huge green watermelons compete with golden cantaloupe
to see who wins the trip to my table
Golden Jars glisten with the hard work of Bees,
 Olive oil, fresh fish, homemade cheese, jam, pastry,
all vying for my attention, all longing to be taken home

I am aware of a joyful cacophony of sound and color
fiddlers playing country music
 farmers calling out, …  flowers, fresh apples
“here, taste my candy, once you tried it you can’t turn it down”
conversations overlap … “come you must try …
oh that is the cutest scarf how much is ….  this melts in …
you have the best potatoes, do you have any red …  OH George LOOK …”
dogs  bark, children shout,
two young women playing Mozart
food for my table,
sounds to lift the heart,
smells to savor and remember
OH the lovely sounds, sights and smells of Edmonds Farmers Market

©Ruth Jewell, August 29, 2010

Who Is My Neighbor

they come in the night
crosses burning
pipe bombs at the ready
hate in burning eyes

who will stop them
who will say enough
who will hear the cry of the stranger,
 the weak amongst us

will it be me
will I stand between the mob and the stranger
am I alone, who else will stand
who else will ask “who is my neighbor”

©Ruth Jewell, August 20, 2010

I realize this is different from all of my blog entries, but I have become angry and frustrated with the controversy over the proposed Muslim community center in New York and have been thinking strongly of what I have been taught about compassion, mercy and care of my neighbor.  I just want to ask who is your neighbor?

Who would have thought that a community center could cause so much trouble?  It is to be a center where people learn of each other, learn to share commonalities, and recognize the humanity of all.  If it had been proposed by anyone else it wouldn’t have been a problem, but no, a self styled fear has created a firestorm of hate against those who do, a Muslim community in New York.  Do you really believe that only Christians were inside the towers when those planes hit?  Do you really believe that Muslims didn’t feel pain when their husbands, wives, sons and daughters died that day?  Christians weren’t the only ones to die when the terrorist attacked.  There were people of all faiths in those buildings, it was a “WORLD TRADE” center and people of all faiths and no faith died because of a few.

 I find the objections of the few terrorists in this country who claim a high road while ignoring the Log that lies in their eyes offensive.  The people of this country, Christian or non-Christian, have nothing to be proud of when it comes to terrorist acts.  Places of worship bombed, Doctors offices bombed, people vilified, physically hurt, or killed all because someone thinks they, and only they, are right.  The amount of hate in this country has reached such a pitch that I’m not sure I recognize the land of my birth any longer.  I fear for my grandchildren and the world they must live in for they will not know how kind and caring the people of this country can be.  The world’s role models that stand for righteousness and peace are being replaced with those who stand for greed, hate, material success; a world that looks after the “me” and not the “other.”

I am saddened by the people who only think of what they have accumulated; only protecting what they have not realizing they could gain much more by giving to those who have so little and only want to find a way to survive.  Each and every one of us will be called to account at some point and all will discover that we will leave this world just as we entered, naked and alone, some more alone than others.    

In the Gospel of Luke a lawyer asks “who is my neighbor” and Jesus responds with a story of compassion by a hated Samaritan.  That lawyer is pushed into answering his own question with “the one who showed mercy.”    Jesus tells him to “go and do likewise,” but the Parable was apparently never taken into the life of the people who heard it then, or hear it now.    For today I’m ashamed to say not many of the people who claim to be “Good Christians” are showing much mercy.  

Who IS YOUR NEIGHBOR, who IS MY NEIGHBOR—my response is to remember the answer of the lawyer and go and do likewise; and what does that mean for me.  Well, it means stand up and speak up for what is right.  Even when intimidated or over run with hate filled speech, I must not give up; I will just keep saying what is right until at least one other person hears the message and does the same.   That may seem like a small thing, but in the end it is by our words and fearless deeds that we will be remembered.  I want to be remembered for speaking up in defense of my neighbor, whatever culture they come from, whatever faith they believe in.  They are my neighbor and it is my God given obligation and responsibility to care for them.   

So let this be my manifesto, if you offend my neighbor you offend me and while I will defend your right to say whatever you want, I will not tolerate abuse of the “the widow, the child, the ill, the weak, or the stranger amongst us.”

©Ruth Jewell, August 20, 2010

This summer isn’t what I thought it would be!

This summer is becoming all about prayer, not the kind that you sit and struggle to connect with God, but rather waiting for my vision, hearing, and all the rest of my senses to recognize that God has been here all the time.   I have  been reading a lot of thought-provoking stuff this summer and I admit I haven’t read a single novel or none theological book, yet.  But what I have read has been an extension of what I’ve been feeling for the last year.   I’ve read two books by John O’Donohue, Anam Cara and Eternal Echoes, along with Martin Buber’s I and Thou and now that I’ve completed those three books I realize just how important prayer and my relationship with God and all creation is to my well-being .  Yes I know I’ve been studying for 3 years and if I had read these 3 books before I began STM I would have enjoyed them, but, now they have real meaning for me.  I see threads of my life that have been and are being woven together to form a whole all through a life that has been prayer.

This summer I’ve been trying to discern what prayer means to me, Ruth Jewell.  Not Ruth Jewell the wife, ecological consultant, or even theological student, just Ruth.  How do I relate to God in my prayers, what is prayer, and how do I accept prayer into my being.

O’Donohue says that “Prayer is not about the private project of making yourself holy and turning yourself into a shining temple that blinds everyone else.  Prayer has a deeper priority, which is … the sanctification of the world of which you are privileged inhabitant.”   Prayer isn’t about asking for that pony, a full stock portfolio, or even that “A” in the class you’ve worked so hard for and prayer isn’t about sweating and struggling to connect with God.  Because, I’ve already ‘connected’ with God and am in relationship with her. 

I am beginning to recognize that every moment of my life, every breath I take, every time my heart beats, I am in a relationship with God.  My first prayer task is to accept that relationship into my being allowing it to work through everything I do.  Then, what I have to do is to reflect the Divine relationship, which began before my birth, out to the world around me.  My last major task is to recognize and honor the relationships reflected by each and every member of this universes creation.  On paper those sound so easy, but I know from experience just how hard it is to follow through on them. 

One of the issues I’ve had this summer has been I haven’t been able to sit and practice the spiritual disciplines I’ve always found fulfilling.  Instead I want to work with John on our Garage cleaning (which is a way bigger job than I thought it would be) or sit with him on our deck and watch the ferry come in and out.  All I want to do is be with my grandchildren and my friends children to watch them grow into new beings all their own.  I am thrilled that I’ve been asked to be part of important tasks for STM and my ecclesial community both are chances for me to give back what they’ve given to me.  I love offering prayers for those in need of comfort I just don’t want to do it sitting still, or in a setting that makes me stand out. 

I was worried that I was entering a “dry period” in my spiritual life and maybe I am, but I think I am instead entering a rich time where prayer is more than sitting in a worship setting, prayer is working, loving and being in contact with all of creation.  I have always had an easy conversational style of praying to God, but now I don’t have to have any special time set aside to do that.  I find that, for me, prayer isn’t something I do, it’s something I am.  I do not have to work on my relationship with God; I am in relationship with Her.  She is present every moment of my life, waking or sleeping, whether I recognize her presence or not, She is there.  With every breath I take I breather Her in, with every beat of my heart I spread her essence throughout this clay vessel called a body.  With every word I speak She speaks.  That is an awesome responsibility and one I am learning to respect.  I know (and She knows) I will not always be successful but I now feel I am awakening to something so old it’s new, I just don’t know what to make of it all.