Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Year One Intern Reunion

Wonderful to see my sister-friends from Year One of the Abundant Table this past weekend! Good times singing, tamale making, and salsa dancing. What a beautiful group of women who are making something wonderful with their lives.

On being or not being vegetarian...

I used to be a vegetarian. Now, when asked if I eat meat, it's a hard question to answer. I like my friend Julia's answer - I'm trying to be a "compassionate eater." I've changed from my pure vegetarian days to now being open to eating meat, especially meat that I am connected to. I think that being involved in the process of killing an animal is a powerful way of being connected to my food. After seeing many animals being killed for food by family and friends in the indigenous community where I lived in the Philippines (example pictured above), I asked my friend Mona to teach me how to kill a chicken. Now, two chickens and one turkey later, I am actually much more open to eating meat that has been raised and slaughtered in a way that honors their life. I like what Joel Sallatin said in an interview about eating meat:

"I will answer this in two parts. The first has to do with the people who think a fly is a chicken is a child is a cat — what I call the cult of animal worship. This would include the people who think we’ve evolved beyond the barbaric practice of killing animals to some cosmic nirvana state where killing is a thing of the past. Rather than indicating a new state of evolutionary connectedness, it actually shows a devolutionary state of disconnectedness. A Bambi-ized culture in which the only human-animal connection is a pet soon devolves into jaundiced foolishness. This philosophical and nutritional foray into a supposed brave new world is really a duplicitous experiment into the anti-indigenous. This is why we enjoy having our patrons come out and see the animals slaughtered. Actually, the 7- to 12-year old children have no problem slitting throats while their parents cower inside their Prius listening to “All Things Considered. ” Who is really facing life here? The chickens don’t talk or sign petitions. We honor them in life, which is the only way we earn the right to ask them to feed us — like the mutual respect that occurs between the cape buffalo and the lion."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Say NO to the Keystone XL pipeline

Last night at the Abundant Table worship service, we talked about sacred places. "What place is sacred to you?" was our art prompt, and we each drew pictures - an orchard, a special doorway, a carwash, a church, a farm. Each person had a different place, and together, these pictures of places that we all placed on our altar showed that every place on Earth is sacred space.

In light of this, I've been thinking of the Keystone XL pipeline, a 1,700-mile oil pipeline that TransCanada, a Canadian oil company plans to build from Alberta, Canada, to the oil refineries near the Gulf of Mexico. It would pump crude oil through beautiful American wilderness and farmland. Acres of Canadian boreal forests have already been destroyed by the oil extraction process.

This pipeline will destroy countless sacred places, and cause more destruction through global warming. See this link ( to sign a petition asking President Obama to reject the requested permit to proceed. He will make a decision in the next week or two. And, if you live out East, consider joining hundreds of people, including religious leaders and scientists, who are sitting in front of the White House in peaceful protest of violence against our country. Let's take a stand for God's good and sacred Creation.

For more information on the pipeline, see this New York Times Editorial.

Also, the following video was created by Josh Fox, the Oscar-nominated director of Gasland:

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sod Farm
This green landscape is a living carpet
and one day it will be gone,
rolled up from the ground still clinging
to rich clods, roots snapping off this Plain
to be released some "where"
far from our long, flat desert near the sea
far in some other desert, perhaps,
where they will swing clubs
and thwack at the implanted sod
grown here by the sea
with miles of sprinklers
and sprays that roll off like syrup
into the ditch where today, I saw:

An egret,
poised, waiting.
About to step,
Not tense but patient.
And I want to memorize this
so that I can tell my children,
Once, I saw a white bird, tall, with the green grass miles behind
and beyond that, the sea, where the runoff still flows.
It stood, for a long time, but only on one leg.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Beast is Dead

During my sophomore year of high school, Bush was on the hunt for Sadaam Hussein and I was in a poetry class learning iambic pentameter. My use of rhyme and meter was developing along with my political views. Though both were, well, "sophomoric," I still resonate with who I was back then. I remember feeling the dissonance between my faith convictions and the language of war and revenge that I was hearing in the news. "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" did not exactly line up with the rhetoric of smoking terrorists out of their holes. With the killing of Osama bin Laden this week, I remembered a poem that I wrote during that class. As I re-read it, those conflicted feelings rose again and I couldn't shake the sense that, despite our jubilation at a tyrant's death, we are still circling beasts in a cycle of violence...

The Beast
The bombs rained down o'er Abram's ground,
Intent to kill the beast they found.
When all was ruins the people said,
"The Beast is dead, the Beast is dead!"

Greedy vultures come circling this terrible beast,
where it lies seeming dead, the birds peck at their feast.
But it utters a growl and it opens one eye,
birds of carrion flap back as it roars at the sky.

The lion bounds 'cross shifting sands,
and gloats in power within his lair;
the stealthy jackals come in bands,
their endless ranks surround him there.

Hornets drone round his head day and night without ceasing,
But the beast becomes still, by this enemies appeasing.
So his foes think him dead, on the eve of destruction;
surely beasts like the old will arise to succeed him.

- 2002

If you're interested, I recommend checking out a good article in Christianity Today this week: "The Death of Osama bin Laden: What Kind of Justice has been Done?"

And another step further, a piece written by a friend at the Oak View Catholic Worker: "Love Your Enemies: Remember That?"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Good Friday/ Earth Day Stations of the Cross

This year, Good Friday and Earth Day converged. As a Christian community living on an organic farm, this was too much of a co-incidence to let it pass! Together, we wrote a "Stations of the Cross" liturgy that, while remembering the suffering and death of Jesus, laments environmental suffering and the injustices of our food system.

An example from Station 10: Jesus is stripped of his garments.
When they came to a place called Golgotha, they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And they divided his garments among them by casting lots. This was to fulfill the scripture which says, "They divided my garments among them; they cast lots for my clothing.

Jesus was stripped of his dignity and left naked. Sit and take a handful of rich topsoil. There are over 3 billion microorganisms in your handful of organic topsoil...topsoil is a complex web of life divinely constructed to give us life. However, we are stripping topsoil from our Earth. Topsoil erosion, caused by mono-cropping, which is when a single crop is planted int he same field year after year along with chemical farming practices in conventional industrial agriculture, is causing us to lose our topsoil seventeen times faster than we can replace it. When we strip Earth of rich topsoil we become even more dependent on chemical fertilizer to give nutrients into crops. What will happen when Earth is stripped of topsoil? What will happen when our farming practices leave Earth naked? Consider a stripped, naked Jesus. His friends and family watching him being stripped of his clothes and dignity. Contemplating your handful of soil, consider a stripped, naked Earth. Consider us watching Earth as she is stripped of her soil, her dignity.


Though I wasn't able to attend (visiting home), friends said the event was really powerful. Here's an article on it in the local paper:

Monday, April 4, 2011


Two sticks in drifted snow
mark the trench where I laid the leeks
in cool dirt in October.
Now I dig down through old
frozen crust to damp dark hay
to the thick grey green leaves
of the leeks and pull them
from the piled earth and
shake dirt from their white
hairy roots. They come up
like creatures from under
the ocean. In the half-cold,
half-light the odor of earth
gone all these long months
wraps around me, and it is as if
these leeks have come from
a world where there are great
pleasures of the body, where
the mind grows smaller, where
libraries mold in the dark,
where worms in purple and brown
rule the streets, and the corridors
of power are moist and rich
in a way that radio voices
can’t conceive of, and the talk
is of the thick trunk
of seasons, the nose
of rootedness, the eye
that works its way through,
hair that feels its way,
the skull that follows,
the toad of desire, the beetle
of bone density, the grub
of grief, the larva of longing,
the moon coming up and the quiet
at the end of February.

I pick up the pile of leeks
and carry them to the kitchen.
I wash them clean. I chop them
on the old board. I cook them
in oil and salt. I taste
their great sweetness. I remember
that the earth will hum into spring.

- Abbot Cutler

Friday, February 25, 2011

On contentment...

"Until we stop craving to be somewhere else and someone else other than animals whose very cells are constituted from the place on earth we love the most, then there is little reason to care about the fate of native foods, family farms, or healthy landscapes and communities.’’

-Nabhan, Coming Home to Eat, p. 304

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Listening to...

I had the pleasure of meeting Ragan at a faith and farming conference in Indianapolis, and reading his book. I love what he has to say about humility-humus-human connection. Check out this interview:

Friday, February 4, 2011

Praise Song for the Day

by Elizabeth Alexander

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other's
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what's on the other side.

I know there's something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need
. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

MLK weekend and Ella Baker

Ella Baker, from the "Americans who Tell the Truth" series

Over the MLK weekend, I took part in a three-day study of the Sermon on the Mount through the Bartimaeus Institute. Ched Myers used the civil rights, Anabaptist, and Catholic Worker (anarchist) movements as modern day expressions of the non-violent ethic expressed in Matthew 5-7. One of the main themes of the weekend was the importance of being historically literate, and so Ched and Elaine spent a lot of time telling the stories of the people and events behind the three movements we discussed.

Men led these movements, for the most part, but it was encouraging to hear about several strong woman leaders. One of these leaders was Ella Baker (1903-1986). I hadn't even heard of Baker before the Institute. She was the granddaughter of a slave, and a behind-the-scenes organizer during the Civil Rights movement. Baker helped co-found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and was actually the one who first invited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the Conference. Dr. King (for good reason) gets much of the credit for the successes of the civil rights movement, but it was people like Ella who did much of the ground work that made his leadership possible. Ella Baker is a new role model for me.

I deeply resonated with Baker's example, and her leadership style. She was quoted as saying, "Strong people don’t need strong leaders," and critiqued the centralized leadership of many organizations of which she was a part. Her work supported ordinary people's democratic participation in the struggle for freedom.

In our day and age, specialists and outside experts are privileged as leaders. I want to be careful of this in my area of work. There are quite a few grassroots community gardens starting in under-served areas that are led by Spanish speakers. My co-worker and I are touted as local "experts," and asked to come show these people how to develop their gardens. I am definitely not an expert, but I don't often resist the title.

Ella Baker's legacy teaches a different way of leadership power - power broadly distributed. Part of me wants people to better remember this strong, black, sister leader, which is why I write this post. However, it may well be a lesson to organizers and leaders today that she is not well-recognized, and the broader civil rights movement that she strengthened continues as perhaps the greatest social movement of our day.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

One Dress Protest

Check out my friend Kristy Powell's "One Dress Protest." She's fasting from fashion by wearing one dress for one year, and is posting some great reflections based on her experience.