Eating Locally as a Spiritual Practice – Prayerful Tuesday

Harvest Time
Harvest Time

 

What does it mean to eat locally grown foods?  Well it doesn’t mean you eat only food grown in your area.  Rather it means you understand the importance of food or, as my friend David Bell says (Eating Locally, Artistically, justbetweentheridges.wordpress.com), the sacredness of food.  Eating food from a neighbor or a local farmer has less impact on the environment than food grown at great distance from us.  There are few transportation costs, less gas and oil means a smaller carbon footprint.  Most local farmers use fewer pesticides or none at all that leads to less contamination of the environment and fewer chemicals to which we are exposed.  The food is fresher because we are buying directly from the farmer we they can pick the fruit and produce at its peak instead of early because they don’t have to transport it as far.  That leads to better nutrition for us and our families.  The relationships built with farmers means you know where your food comes from and how it is produced.  Those are some of the benefits but what about the sacredness of food?

Well, food is sacred. It is a gift from the Holy Presence to feed our bodies and when we separate ourselves from where it originates we lose a connection with the Holy that is basic to life itself. Throughout scripture food plays an important role in the relationship with God, and with the people of the bible. In Genesis God provided food for Adam and Eve, when they were banned from the Garden God still provided for them.  The Israelites are fed by God with food from heaven; Elijah is cared for by angels; and at the end of his 40 days of temptation, the angels provided for Jesus. Ultimately we celebrate the sacredness of food every Sunday when we bless bread and cup and offer the feast of Jesus at the communion table. Food is important not just to our physical well being but to our spiritual well being as well.  The work a farmer does is not only necessary to our existence it is a holy occupation, a sacred act, a connection between God, earth and us.

This week spiritual practice is to offer thanks at each meal for the food you eat.  Here is the table prayer I use, you may use it or one of your own:

Holy Giver of Life, I thank you for this food before me, thank you for the earth in which it was grown, thank you for sun and rain that nurtured, thank you for the farmer who harvested it, and thank for the hands that prepared it.  May this food feed our bodies as you feed our souls.  Amen.

May your week be filled with wonderful food and abundant grace.

Ruth Jewell, ©September 16, 2014

Prayerful Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of G-d.
Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of G-d.

 

Namaste

In the last few days it seems our world has slipped another cog on its sanity wheels.  There have been floods in Colorado, a devastating fire in New Jersey, children have gone missing, there are continuing world economic problems, people are dying in conflicts in the Middle East and South America . . . there are just too many to name.  Are you as overwhelmed as often as I am?

Sometimes I just have to stop and find something that reminds me that I am not alone in this world of many sorrows.  G-d walks with me through the pain and suffering I see all around me.  It is important for all of us to remember G-ds grace is in all things, all people, every moment even if we are to frightened or too busy see that amazing presence. On this Prayerful Tuesday I offer to you the practice of Visio Divina, a visual meditation on something in creation.

  • Sometime today pause and find something to focus on for a few moments; it could be a leaf, a sunbeam, the face of a friend or loved one, or you may use the picture of clouds above.  Pick something that reflects G-d’s presence to you at that moment.
  • Hold that image in your mind and meditate on the gifts God has given you.
  • You might take a moment to jot down any thoughts you may have for later contemplation.
  • When you have finished your contemplation offer your own prayers of intercession
  • End your time of prayer with a prayer of thanksgiving to the blessed creator.

My prayer for you this day is a “Prayer of Blessing” from John Phillip Newell’s book, “Praying with the Earth, A Prayerbook for Peace.”  

Prayer of Blessing

Peace where there is war
healing where there is hurt
memory where we have forgotten the other.
Vision where there is violence
light where there is madness
sight where we have blinded each other.
Comfort where there is sorrow
tears where there is hardness
laughter where we have missed life’s joy
laughter when we remember the joy.

(John Phillip Newell, Praying with the Earth, A Prayerbook for Peace,
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 2011, pg. 44)

May you find your moment of stillness and may it fill you with peace. Namaste

Prayerful Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Into the Wilderness
Into the Wilderness

Into the Wilderness

An old Hebrew root for wilderness means “to speak,” {dabar – meaning “to speak” is a primitive root of midbar – meaning wilderness, a place where you can hear G-d speak}.  Those who traveled into the wilderness were outsiders, minorities, women and Judean peasants and they were the ones that heard G-d speak.  All too often we believe we have to be on the “inside” to hear G-d’s voice, we must “do it the right way” in order for G-d to notice us and accept us.  Yet that isn’t the way I’ve observed G-d work.  It is the outsider, the minority, the woman, the one who seems to be doing it all wrong that is called by G‑d.

How often do feel as if you are on the outside?  Might G-d be calling to you, inviting you into the wilderness, to hear the voice of the Creator? Today I invite to take this moment and breathe deeply.  Breathe out your burdens, worries, your cares and the responsibilities that weigh on you.  Sit in stillness and open up to G-d’s voice.  G-d will take your concerns and tend to them while you rest in G-d’s loving kindness and grade.  Breathe in G-d’s presence and love for you.  Remain still for 5 or 10 minutes in your inner silence and breathe the breath of G-d.

My prayer for you this day is that the stillness of this moment will remain within your heart all day letting you see G-d’s grace and blessings in all of the days tasks.

The Peace of G-d be upon you.

Ruth Jewell, September 10, 2013

 

More than Enough

 

Suzie
Suzie

Matthew 25: 40 And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Saturday John and I welcomed a new family member into our home.  A small stray dog rescued by the Sonoma County Animal Shelter.  She is a 5-year-old Chihuahua who is also completely blind.  For someone she was simply a throw away life, to John, me and my cousin, who brought her up from California, she is a delight; sweet-tempered and loving.

As John and I prepared for her arrival I began to reflect on how privileged I am.  How privileged all of us are.  We have enough to eat, nice clothes to wear, clean drinking water, and warm homes that shelter us.  We are, for the most part, healthy and able to get around without assistance. In general we all have friends who welcome us, even if we do not have family.   We have all been well-educated, never experiencing or having very little experience of being prevented from learning, or doing whatever we choose to do.

We walk our streets without fear of being shot by snipers, or being killed by daily shelling or in the crossfire of combatants.  We know where our children are and have no fear about sending them to school or leaving them alone.  We can shop for anything in the world; shoes, clothes, and food in quantities the rest of the world finds totally amazing. We think nothing of ordering from Amazon a new electronic gadget or, in my case, books of every kind.  Do you realize the poorest of us in Snohomish and King Country has more than those that live in Darfur?  The poorest in this country would be considered wealthy by many in third world countries.

Right now our government is deciding whether to intervene in Syria and my honest prayer is “please let’s not do this.”  But the issue of this intervention is way more complicated than just not wanting to because I am “tired of war” and “I don’t want to open a new front that will suck more of our much needed funds away.”  I am not the one being shelled, I am not the one being poisoned, and I am not the one in the cross-hairs.  My heart goes out to those caught in a war zone and am frustrated because there is so little I can do to help except send my prayers.

I realize I am embarrassed by my riches.  What makes me worth more than those in Syria, or homeless of Nicklesville Tent City, or refugees in Darfur?  So my prayers this week have been extremely troubled.  How do I make a difference?  How do I help the poorest in this country and the rest of the world?  How do I follow in the steps of the one I choose to follow?  I am afraid, uncertain, confused, and unsure. I am overwhelmed by the enormity of what the heart of my heart calls me to do.  My prayers and my small offerings seem inadequate.  But that is what I have to offer.  There is a line from a poem by John Phillip Newell that I practically like, “Be strong and let your heart take courage.”  That is what I am trying to do. I can’t do a lot but my little bit just might be helpful.

Adopting Suzie, one of G-d’s children thrown to the side of the road, is a small thing. And in all that I have been blessed with I have more than enough to live my life. Sharing out of what I have been blessed with only adds to my riches in a new way.  Therefore, I vow to give out of all I’ve been blessed with by doing many small things and maybe if we all did small things they would add up to a collective big thing.   All we have to do is everyday give a small thing out of our great abundance and maybe, just maybe, we might change the world.  For me one of those small things is to never stop praying because it may seem inadequate at the time but calling out to G-D in heartfelt sincerity and surrender is never a waste of my time and leads me to actions that benefit others.  Life is full of choices and I choose to be more giving of the blessings I’ve received.

In the short-term none of what I do may change how the homeless are treated, whether injustices are set right, or whether or not we go to war.  In the long-term it will be only G-d who will remember how a lost heart was pointed to a better path. My small offering will be just one more strand strengthening the ever-growing fabric of life.  I find that to be amazing and astounding and more than enough to keep me going.

Ruth Jewell, ©September 9, 2013

Do Not Refuse

Do Not Refuse to Enter
Do Not Refuse to Enter

Hebrews 12:18-29 18 You have not come to something* that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. 20 (For they could not endure the order that was given, ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.’ 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear.’) 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly* of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25 See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven! 26 At that time his voice shook the earth; but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.’ 27 This phrase ‘Yet once more’ indicates the removal of what is shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; 29 for indeed our God is a consuming fire. (NRSV)

We come into a new Kingdom, one that cannot be touched, heard, or seen. A Kingdom built on our own blood, tears, and spirit. A Kingdom that cannot be shaken by fears, hate, jealously, ego, and greed, it replaces the old kingdom that failed to grow us in God’s presence and love. I, we, must not reject or fear to enter the New. God consumes the old in the cleansing fire of love and releases me, us all, to walk, no run, from the old and into the new. To freely become the being the Divine Spirit wants me, all of us, to be.

Where is this kingdom you ask? If I can’t touch it or see it how do I know it exists, how do I know I’ve arrived? The new Kingdom is not a place of buildings and nation states. No; this new Kingdom is a way of living, visible only through my, our, actions in the world, our prayers, and our relationship with God. It is a Kingdom of the heart, spirit and soul, held together by love, justice, compassion, mercy, peace and walking humbly with the Divine.

No one is forced to enter and all are welcome in this new Kingdom. People enter one by one, in their own time, and in their own chosen way. No one is forced to stay; all may leave and return whenever they choose. I have been in the Kingdom many times; I have also left it many times. Today I choose to enter and as I look back I see . . . You.

Ruth Jewell ©August 20, 2013

The Hardest Task

Mt. Rainier
Mt. Rainier
Morning Scripture Psalm 33:12-22

G-d fashioned me from the heart of the SPIRIT,
and all creation with me.
I cannot see the immensity around me,
only the little shelf I stand on do my eyes perceive.

I think my knowledge is so great,
that I no longer need G-d.
Yet all that I am is because of G-d.
All the strength in my arms
is worthless; all the knowledge
of my mind takes me nowhere.
I stand like a child on the side of a mountain
but see only trees, not knowing
much more lies beyond the next bend

I say “I see the mountain,”
I say “I understand,” yet much lays hidden
in caves so deep I cannot imagine.
I think I am so smart,
yet G-d knows how much is still to learn.

My hope for success has no future
without the G- d of creation.
Only the LORD of all
can grace me with life and vision.
Only when I open the ears of my heart
to the SPIRIT within and around me
will I find what my heart seeks.

I hear the voice of the Ancient of Days calling:
“Trust in the LORD, and rest in the SPIRIT.
Only then will your door to life and hope
open wide and your path made smooth.
Our hearts together will beat as one
and they will sing with joy.
The sound of lute and harp
will resound in our ears
and the taste of sweet celestial honey
will delight our mouths.”

All I have to do is trust, to rest, to give to G-d.
Why or why is that so hard?

Let your steadfast love, O LORD,
be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Ruth Jewell ©August 9, 2013

COME . . .

Morning Light
Morning Light

Light of Christ surround me
Ignite within
the flame of love,

Breath of the Holy Spirit
Flow through me,
Fan the flames of passion

Arms of the blessed Creator
Enfold me,
reminding me of your presence,

Giver of life provide a safe place
this day to rest
when I am weary

Shalem
Ruth Jewell, ©August 1, 2013

MORNING

Morning light
Morning Light

night time is nearly over
robin sings his song to call the sun to rise
a thin line of light glows on the Eastern horizon
pink, orange, purple climb into the sky
gold tips the tops of trees
in the West the waters of Puget Sound are dark . . . then
pink lights up the snow capped Olympic Mountains
gold reaches up and over the Cascades
water shimmers with silver
day comes with a platinum wedding band and diamonds
shining in the morning light

Ruth Jewell, ©May 16, 2013

a bit of gardening

ROSEMARYThis past week John and I did a bit of gardening.  We had a rosemary bush being shaded by another bush and I wanted to move it.  So we prepared the new spot where it was to go, dug the new hole and went over to our lovely rosemary bush.  Now you should know I planted this bush 6 or 7 years ago and I haven’t touched it to really prune it in 5 years.  That means it wasn’t a small bush.  For the last 5 years it has been doing a wonderful job of growing as it now stood nearly 5 feet tall and had a spread of closer to 6 feet.  But, we started pruning and pruning, and pruning.  Some of the branches were more than an inch thick and really woody (great in our fireplace though).  After being prickled and rosemary scented by our bush we got down to digging the roots up.  I never knew this about rosemary but it puts down ROOTS, not little roots, big ones and deep.  Also, they extended farther than the drip line of the bush which made finding the ends of the plant actually very difficult.  We ended up cutting a lot of roots because we couldn’t find where they stopped.  But we moved our tenacious plant and got it planted in its new home and it is doing well enjoying all the sun it wants and lots of water.

After we were finished and cleaning up I remembered something about rosemary.  First of all rosemary, in flower language, means remembrance and that sweet, huge, tough bush reminded me of just how persistent our memories are.  Deep within each of us lives a world that was.  Sometimes it surfaces when we least expect it whether we want it to or not.  But our past makes us who we are and embracing the happy, the sad, the good with the bad memories helps balance our present. Learning from my past mistakes and successes provides me with a road map for my way forward.  All of those memories connect me to something greater than just this single moment in time.  It is also the memories of those who modeled the best of their lives which have led me to being a better person in my own life.

It is the memory of my parents and how they loved and cared for me that has taught me to be a more loving and caring wife, friend, and grandmother.  It was my parent’s determination to model a life that included people of all backgrounds, races, genders, and abilities that has given me a passion for my openness to those who are different from me.  It was my father’s love of creation and prayer and silence that has been my model for my spiritual growth throughout my life.  It was a first grade teacher’s kindness to this wounded child that taught me anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

The memories I have of wandering open fields, lying in new mown grass, making storybook figures out clouds, and reading a book while I sat in the crook of an old apple tree gave me a love of open spaces.  I have precious memories of  being awakened at midnight to watch the Aurora Borealis with my father, or going out to our barn to watch as calves or puppies were born that hold a special place in my heart.  It is remembering thunder storms roll across our fields and listening as the rain pummeled the tin roof of our barn, or rushed through the branches of the huge pine tree that was just outside my bedroom window that draws me into a place of contemplation and peace like nothing else can.

It is the memory of pulling a deep fat fryer full of hot grease down on top of me that reminds me that accidents happen but I am not alone even in the worst of times.  It is the memory of a child in the hospital bed next to me who died during the night that taught me that fresh grief is always inconsolable.  It is the memory of uncaring questions by adults and taunts of other children that taught me that sometimes people can be cruel.  The memory of my father’s death from cancer keeps me asking “why” questions of God and doubting the fairness of life the Scripture tells me is good. It was being laid off for a year that taught me to let go of my fears, face them, then hand them over to the all surrounding presence that has always been in my life.  It is the memory of my discovery of how much I have been surrounded by the Spirit that has changed me from who I was into the person I am today. Memories are the soil of our lives; mine goes deep with plenty of memory leaf compost and with each day. With each new memory made the soil gets deeper and richer.

The best part is that each of us has our own bed of memories to draw upon.  Some are wonderful, insightful memories, some are horrid memories we would rather forget entirely, but by facing them we turn those bad memories into rich memory compost.  Even the memories of death and destruction have a place in our lives, just as the memories of our mother’s arms around us does.  Each memory adds to who we are and allows us to see who we were. Memories are the mirrors of our soul and how our soul has grown into who we are.  For the good and bad memories are who we are.  In learning to live with what we remember gives us the skills we need to live in the world we share with all of creation.

Creation, life, isn’t always fair or beautiful to our eyes. But, we don’t see the big picture; we see only our very small portion. Like an ant on a forest floor the view of our individual world of reality is very small.  What we remember of our past helps us see the greater picture. Memories give us a wider view of the life that lies before us and behind us. Our memories connect us to those we have loved, and hated, giving us a past to live from.

Not having a past cuts us off from our life today.  It is the reason those with Alzheimer’s, dementia or traumatic brain injuries that affects memory feel so cut off from the world around them.  They have nothing to compare today with so how do they know what today means; how do they relate to people and the world around them.  The greatest gift we can give those who cannot remember is to give them a piece of their past to ground them in the now moment of their lives and to do it every moment, every hour, every day we are with them.  The joy of someone who discovers their own past is amazing and life giving.

Memories are the soil we stand on, the ground of our lives that allows us to live better lives today and tomorrow.  Rosemary, the plant of remembrance, is tough, strong, and sweet and I want to remember my yesterdays to make my tomorrows tough, strong, and sweet.

Ruth Jewell ©April 30, 2013

Wait

 

 

mandala_waiting 03.01.2013

Quiet, I sit in my small boat
Alone, I wait
Purple and gold sky
A sea dark and still
Alone, I wait 

Ruth Jewell, ©March 1, 2013