Monday, May 31, 2010

Week 27: "Arise, my love, and come away."

My beloved speaks and says to me:
"Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away...

My beloved is mine, and I am his;
My beloved in mine, and I am hers.
We pastures our flock among the lilies.

Come, my beloved,
let us go forth into the fields,
and lodge in the villages;
let us go out early to the vineyards,
and see whether the vines have budded,
whether the grape blossoms have opened
and the pomegranates are in bloom.
There I will give you my love.

Song of Solomon 2:10-13,16 and 7:11-12

Sunday 30 May 2010: my father celebrated his 85th birthday and was born again into a new marriage! Both he and his bride lost the first loves of their lives in the last two years due to sorrowful deaths. (I still grieve my mother, and wanted to call her often last Saturday, while waiting for Lily to be born.) So for both Dad and Lynn it is a risk to love again, knowing that loving means the joy of loving, caring and sharing and also the grief of releasing, grieving and saying farewell.

They chose to be wed in the garden behind our home, under the bridal bushes. And as Solomon and his bride sought each other in vibrant rural vineyards and fields, they spoke their words of commitment under the open sky and a canopy of trees.

My favorite weddings have been in parks, back gardens, on farms and at camps. The couple and guests “come away” to be surrounded with beauty and all the fecundity of the natural world. Or, like my husband and I, to enjoy the bright and sometimes blizzard like beauty of winter. We were married at a camp in Michigan in January thirty three years ago. Guests came to spend the weekend in cabins, play football on the frozen lake, cross country ski, and sit around the fire in the lodge telling stories and then dancing. And we shared our vows simply, like Dad and Lynn, in a small circle of loved ones.

On days like these it seems there is some force of nature that calls out “LOVE!” from the fields and the forests, lakes and streams. It seems a safer more expansive place to let hormones flow, to invite friends into the dance, to spin and laugh until we cry, to glimpse the promise of goodness blossom.

I admit the first wedding I remember that captivated my romantic imagination was definitely urban. In the artificial lights of dark, mysterious Manhattan my cousin was married in a spectacular Jewish-Gentile celebration. There were vows under a cloth canopy punctuated with the breaking of wine glasses. And in the luxurious hotel ballroom was a seemingly endless dance floor. And as a blossoming teen, I danced with my father…

So “the country” does not have the only corner on romance.

But I want to remember the Song of Songs as I consider the vibrancy that choreographs love – maybe ultimately love of the earth itself. I will officiate at the wedding of a young organic farmer and his bride at the end of the summer. I hope we will hear Gaia singing the traditional blessing that comes from Guatemala:

The peace of the earth be with you,
the peace of the heavens, too.
The peace of the rivers be with you,
the peace of the ocean, too.
Deep peace falling over you.
God’s peace growing in you.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Week 26: New Birth -- beginning the next season of life

Now I have entered a new club -- the Grandmothers' Club. Friends have been telling me there is nothing like it. I am just a one day old grandmother, but it clearly feels like a new universe. I shared the anticipation of Lily Genevieve Lanctot with many friends, in Costa Rica, Cambodia and at home. Now you can share the good news and the adventure with me.

Lily Genevieve Lanctot
was born at home
to Caitlin and Andrew Lanctot
on Saturday, 22 May at 2:05 pm
7# 13 oz and 20" long,
peaceful and round

Florence friends gave me a surprise grandmother shower as I waited for the call yesterday afternoon announcing Lily's arrival. Here are some gems of wisdom they shared with me in a lovely rural cabin on Northern Twin Lake, IN. (I guess that makes it Vibrant Rural Rest and Renewal...)

At the right time take a blanket to the lawn at night. Lay there with Lily and gaze up at the immense sky and stars above. Words may be few but the ooohs and aaahs will be priceless. -- from Linda Christophel

She knows haw important dreams are. And she believes one can never have too many dreams. -- a quote from a book, shared by Martha Miller

I think the sort of grandmother I want to be -- is one who is as patient with my grandchildren as with my flowers, giving them what they need to grow, and then waiting patiently for the miracle of blossoms. -- from Barb Welty

A child in the cradle, if you watch it as leisure, has the Infinite in its eyes. -- Van Gogh, from Verna Troyer


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Week 25: Farm Trek, the Next Generation

What a thrill to know that four of the farms at the Goshen Farmer's Market are tended, at least in part, by folks from my small rural congregation.

Pictured above is Josh Ewert, son of Randy Ewert (Star Trek Fan Extraordinaire).

In southwest Michigan, where a few decades ago family farms were failing left and right, a new generation is sustaining good food in new ways. This is Josh and Randy's first season as market gardeners together.

On Bair Lane in Marcellus, MI, there are three market gardens, all neighboring each other and all connected to Florence Church. And a fourth farm, Sustainable Greens in Jones, is also where Randy works on occasion as well as Maria Montoya and her family, and now recent college grads from Florence Church, Jheny Nieto and Emma Fenton-Miller.

I realized as I bought lettuce and radishes from Luke Nofsinger of One Straw Farm yesterday that it was an act of recycling.
Only last growing season I had walked through White Yarrow fields with Luke as he dreamed of farming -- in France. "Why in France?" I asked. "It's beautiful! And exotic! But it's not a realistic dream for me to be a farmer, even though I love it."

Well, as a pastor I recycled that dream right back to Luke.

"Keep dreaming."

(See related story from August 2009 at the Florence Church Blog)

Luke grew the salad I ate for dinner tonight. I paid him at the Goshen Farmers' Market for his work. And, well, I suppose in his support of Florence Church he pays me!

I'd say that's holy local organic spiritual visionary sustainable recycling!

Market Farms linked to Florence Church of the Brethren Mennonite:

Bair Lane Farm -- Randy, Roxie and Josh Ewert

One Straw Farm -- Luke Nofsinger and Daniela Zehr

Sustainable Greens -- Kate and James Lind and farm workers Randy Ewert, Maria Montoya, Jheny, Brenda and Kathia Nieto, and Emma Fenton-Miller

White Yarrow Farm -- Dale Hasenick and Jo Beachy

Other Florence Church related Farms:

Maple Tree Meadows -- Karla Kauffman (cultivating soul and soil)

VillaMiller Farms -- Henry and Martha Miller (seed corn, soy beans, wheat)

Week 24: Field Trip to Hope CSA

Pastor comes from the Latin pascere which literally means one who puts to pasture, the ministry of HOPE CSA is fitting in its approach to link pastor and pasture, human and humus, soil and soul. (Jeff Hawkins)

A belated entry...

A week ago Monday I took a literal field trip -- to Hope CSA in North Manchester, Indiana. Thanks to Karla Kauffman and Kathy Fenton-Miller, we had a little community pilgrimage, complete with a picnic in a sunny cemetery along the country roads on the way.

Hope CSA to me was the perfect meeting of ecology and theology. Ken Hawkins, the owner and farmer of this family farm, is a pastor with pastures. As a retired Lutheran minister, he now sees his work as growing pastors while farming together. Three groups of pastors come for one day a month. They do farm work together, feeding chickens and bulls, tending crops and fences. Then they eat the good farm food. After a stretch of intentional silence, they reflect together on what they are experiencing and reading about the common ground of tending God's creation and God's creatures.

Ken was a generous host with his time, his wisdom, and his eggs -- a free dozen to those who wanted them. He also encouraged us to come try a day of work and reflection.
"Don't worry about paying," he said. "If you come once, I know you'll come back. It's like when people tell me my free range, organic chickens cost too much. I just give them one. After they taste it they are sure to come back for more!"

Kathy, Karla and I were especially intersted in the wood fired stove used to make pizza on Friday nights through the summer months. All the ingredients (well, maybe with the exception of olive oil) are local. Beginning with dough making on Wednesday, it is quite a production to build the pizzas, bake and serve them. But what a treat! We are hoping to return to try the margarita pizza (tomato, basil and cheese) or sausage pizza (with sausage from Hope CSA beef).

You can read more about Hope CSA at their website:

HOPE CSA -- Hands on pastoral education using clergy sustaining agriculture

J L Hawkins Family Farm
10373 N 300 E
N Manchester IN 46962

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Week 23: All things NEW at Florence

Photo: Micah and lamb on Bair Lane. (photo, thanks to Kathy Fenton-Miller)

Monday -- Baby Lichti, John Floyd, is born! Welcome to the world.

Wednesday -- Met the new lambs and bunnies at the Ewert Farm on Bair Lane.

Two lambs were born by emergency C-section at the hands of Josh and Randy when the mother ewe was perishing. The third was saved by emergency stomach puncture when dying of bloat from too much fresh green grass.

Death and birth. Easter season. Rural drama.

Friday -- Tiny baby squirrel found in the hosta bed at our home.

Saturday -- Constructing the birthing tub for Drew and Caitlin, one month away from due date of our first grandchild.

Sunday -- In a ritual of re-entry, I am blessed as the new pastor of Florence, lambs and all, once more.

"New earth, heavens new, Spirit of God moving..."