Wild Lectionary: Direct Laction

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The abandoned land from our Direct Laction in Camden, NJ

Sixth Sunday After Epiphany
by Andrea Ferich

And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, ‘I belong to Paul’, and another, ‘I belong to Apollos’, are you not merely human?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labour of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.     -1 Corinthians 3:1-9

A few years ago I lived for a decade in the Delaware River Watershed in Camden, NJ in an abandoned and contaminated landscape. Amidst the industrial collapse we planted orchards and took literal and symbolic action to reclaim the landscape. The reading from 1 Corinthians calls to mind the watering, the planting, the miracles and milk that were poured onto the land. Here is an excerpt from our “Direct Laction” to reclaim the land with milk, land that was not ready, nor suitable to grow food. As the reading in Deuteronomy 30:15-20 describes, we were entering the land with the sacred, humble seeking blessing and healing. Using our liturgical imaginations our ceremony was both for the symbolic and literal healing of the land, and honoring the Divine Breastfeeder.

2011- I was talking with an environmental engineer friend of mine this past year, and we discussed the ways in which brownfields (contaminated land) can be bioremediated, or cleaned up using natural materials. He thought for a moment and then said that both vegetable oil and milk help to stabilize the volatile organic compounds. Many of you are currently lactating or have had this type of intimacy nurturing your child, your own mother, or work closely with mothers in this process. I have been discussing the idea with a lactating priest mother friend of coming together on a brownfield (a contaminated site) in Camden to either breastfeed a child on the edge of the land or to allow some of the milk to fall onto the land. Bring your goat, save up milk from your morning coffee, save the expired cafeteria milk, bring your child. Pour your milk onto the land.

Baby Vada blessed the land with her spit-up milk, the milk from holy mother Nikki fed the wild dog. The mothers brought milk from their own bodies and in bottles, fed their sons and daughters on the land, spilling their nurture on the soil. Their milk was blessed with holy water, and two garbage bags of milk expired from a school cafeteria.

LEADER: The touching of the earth is an act divine, it is good, we are all interconnected

ALL: The touching of the earth is an act divine, it is good, we are all interconnected

LAND YOU ARE GOOD. WE bless you in the name of El Shaddhai, Divine with many nurturing breasts

Mother bear, mighty womb of compassion, Mother Hen, El Shaddhai, God of mighty nourishing breasts take this milk which you have given blessed by mammal bodies, holy and pure take this Milk as a living sacrafice for the healing of the Earth. Hover over the chaos of this place to heal this earth as it waits in anticipation to be revealed. Heal this LAND creator Ruah breath us into communion with this land, as the Wheat and grapes rise from seeds fallen into the earth, may this milk fall as tears, fall as your mercy reaching to your thirsty people.

LEADER: The touching of the earth is an act divine, it is good, we are all interconnected

ALL: The touching of the earth is an act divine, it is good, we are all interconnected

Lament of the destruction of the earth as body:

This milk falls as our tears to the earth. The cries of your children will not go unheard. 75,000 different chemicals fill our land, bodies of water, and skies. 560 million tons of hazardous waste produced each year in this country alone. 28 Contaminated Sites in this neighborhood

Let down your milk, latch with us in this land filling with holy colostrum in the contracting of the cosmic uterus . Fill us with the milk of human compassion, suffering with and nurturing with this land.

Love canal, Bhopal, Chernobyl, Agent Orange in our wars and on our lawns, Three Mile Island, Fracking and Fukishima, diesel fumes. lead, mercury, alcohol, bennzyne, herachloriphine, Carcinnogin, Mutagen, teratogen, digestive, respiratory, reproduction system,

Rachel Carson, Meister Eckhart, Vandana Shiva, Lois Gibbs, Wangari, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Thomas Berry

The women of mountains, the women of the rivers, pray with us

LEADER: The touching of the earth is an act divine, it is good, we are all interconnected

ALL: The touching of the earth is an act divine, it is good, we are all interconnected

I will name it this: the art of liberation, the act that releases the mysteries, that ruptures the fabric of our beliefs and lets us look into the heart of deep space where dwell the immeasurable, life-generating powers. Those powers live in us also, as we live in them. The mysteries are what is wild in us, what cannot be quantified or contained. But the mysteries are also what is most common to us all: blood, breath, heartbeat, the sprouting of seed, the waxing and waning of the moon, the turning of the earth around the sun, birth, growth, death, and renewal.   — Starhawk

LEADER: The touching of the earth is an act divine, it is good, we are all interconnected

ALL: The touching of the earth is an act divine, it is good, we are all interconnected

* please be responsible and test soil for contamination before farming it

16463170_10154742226081690_7154388506950351412_o.jpgAndrea Ferich is a graduate student at Penn State University where she studies Forest Management and teaches Watershed Hydrology and Management. Pennsylvania has a terrible history of colonizing indigenous people and stealing land, currently with the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline and dating back to the Carlisle Indian School. In the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in Lancaster County, land of the Susquehannock, Andrea’s ancestors were colonizers, settlers, and colonized.

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