For Each Child That’s Born

A collective poem from The Sandbox Revolution: Raising Kids for a Just World.

For each child that’s born
Earth waits with her gift and wounds;
The creatures smile and weep;
The waters and winds rush and grow still.

A monarch unfolds its wings,
A beak breaks through its shell,
A tadpole finds legs,
And a million larva take flight.

For each child that’s born,
The Balance shifts to make room
and matter, time and light bend around
The squalling cries.

For each child that’s born,
An ancestor lives.
May this child ancestor be welcomed
as a previous, sacred being
By all of creation-
As a partner and friend.
May their landing be gentle
and our protection and love be fierce.

May this child be a joyful wake-up call to each of us
To live with gusto and stillness,
With righteous anger and creative action,
With tenderness and compassion.
May we say that your birth breathes life in each of us.

Continue reading “For Each Child That’s Born”

The Inner Gesture of Dying

An excerpt from a longer piece by Brother David Steindl-Rast, re-posted from his piece “Learning to Die” in Parabola (February 29, 2016).

Most of what I have said simply means: let’s learn to die so that, when our last hour comes and if we are still alert to it, we will be able to die well. But at any rate let’s learn it, and that means let’s learn to give ourselves over and over again to that which takes us; let go of things, or rather give up as a mother gives up. Let go is a little too passive, it comes too close to letting down; giving up is the truly sacrificial gesture. So in many traditions you have this notion that throughout our lives we train for a right dying; and that means to train for flowing with life, for giving ourselves. And this suggests some more symptomatic idioms of taking and giving that show ways we can make the inner gesture of dying: giving thanks instead of taking for granted; giving up rather than taking possession: for-giving as, opposed to taking offense. What we take for granted does not make us happy; what we hold on to deteriorates in our grasp; what we take offense at we make into a hurdle we can’t get past. But in giving thanks, giving up, forgiving, we die here and now and become more fully alive.

Seeds Are Our Lifeline to Future Generations

Image Credit: Meredith Stern, “Save Seeds,” July 2011, Linoleum Block Print, 12 in. x 12 in.

By Edith Woodley. Originally published in Geez 61: Seeds are Sacred.

We look to the seeds to sustain our future.

Eloheh Indigenous Center for Earth Justice and Eloheh Farm & Seeds is a learning centre, farm, and community that includes a seed bank and a seed store. My husband, Randy, and I consider ourselves to be co-sustainers of the land and of the seeds. We understand seeds as our lifeline to the future generations. Seeds are not an object, but they are precious relatives to be enjoyed. Each seed is beautiful, unique, and life-giving. When I hold the seeds in my hand, I talk to them as if they were my own children. I want the best from them, so I treat them with love and respect, and in return, they give us their best. If we don’t attend the seeds properly, we are simply cutting ourselves off from Mother Earth and our future as co-sustainers of the Earth.

Continue reading “Seeds Are Our Lifeline to Future Generations”

If It Ain’t Subversive

From the prophetic imagination of Mark Van Steenwyk, re-posted from social media (July 12, 2021).

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” – attributed to Meister Eckhart

“If your only action is a ‘fuck you’ to the oppressive system, it is enough.” – Meister Van Steenwyk

* * *

When I say things like this, folks think I’m being needlessly provocative. I am quite serious. And while I affirm the insights of the former, I find the neoliberal spirituality scene’s inability to affirm the latter deeply upsetting.

Usually, white contemplative folks try to disarm the most challenging liberationist stuff by foolishly calling it “dualistic” as though there is a unique property of white middle class consciousness that is able to see the unity of all things without challenging the political and economic foundations of dominating society.

If it ain’t subversive, it ain’t the Spirit.

The Crossings

TabghaBy Ched Myers, for the 8th Sunday of Pentecost (Mk 6:30-34, 45-56)

Note: This is an ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary re-posted from year B, 2015.

The lectionary melts down a little this week. On one hand, it inexplicably avoids the wilderness feeding (6:35-44), such that we get neither of Mark’s two versions of this tradition in Year B. Continue reading “The Crossings”

We are Saved in Wonder

Today, we celebrate the 200th episode of “The Word is Resistance,” a SURJ-Faith podcast. This is an excerpt from the transcript, words from Nichola Torbett. Click here to listen to the full episode: Justice and Peace Shall Kiss.

Now, I am grateful to my Jewish cantor friend, Shira Stanford-Asiyo, who taught me that “fearing God” in Hebrew actually means something more like “standing in awe before God” (or sitting or lying down in awe, if that’s what your body can do). In other words, we are saved in awe. We are saved in wonder. We are saved as we orient ourselves in grateful relationship to God and to the redwood tree and the dung beetle and the Milky Way, and every single person alive, including people we can’t see because they are incarcerated, they are in immigrant detention, they are living under the freeway, or they are on the other side of some border wall; we come to know ourselves in relationship to all of these.  We are saved as we feel deep in our bones, simultaneously how tiny we are, relative to this swirling starscape, and how beloved we are, all of us, by the Creator of all of it. There is no way to hold onto supremacy thinking in the face of all this. We come to realize that we know only a little, only what we can see from this tiny spot where we sit. We are saved in humility, the earthy cousin of awe. “Salvation is at hand for those who are in awe.”

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Literally Being Unearthed

By Nick Estes, re-posted from his brilliant piece in The Guardian (June 30, 2021).

There is so much mourning Native people have yet to do. The full magnitude of Native suffering has yet to be entirely understood, especially when it comes to the nightmarish legacies of American Indian boarding schools. The purpose of the schools was “civilization”, but, as I have written elsewhere, boarding schools served to provide access to Native land, by breaking up Native families and holding children hostage so their nations would cede more territory. And one of the primary benefactors of the boarding school system is the Catholic church, which is today the world’s largest non-governmental landowner, with roughly 177 million acres of property throughout the globe. Part of the evidence of how exactly the church acquired its wealth in North America is literally being unearthed, and it exists in stories of the Native children whose lives it stole, which includes my own family. Click here to read the rest.

Birds-Eye View

Flick Cc Bruce Bodjack

By Joyce Hollyday

This sermon was offered at Charlemont Federated Church in Charlemont, Massachusetts, on June 20, 2021. The focus scriptures are 1 Kings 17:1-16 and Matthew 6:25-34.

As a young girl, I loved this Gospel passage from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. It made me think of the bright purple violets that carpeted the field near my home every spring—and the pretty flowers known as Queen Anne’s lace, which looked like miniature doilies popping up here and there among them. It conjured images of meadow larks and wood thrushes, which were free to spend all day just singing, and redtailed hawks soaring lazily in the sky. God took care of them. And—if I was good and didn’t make any trouble—God would take care of me, too. I would have all the food and clothing I needed—and everything I wanted.

            This was easy to believe, sitting in the First United Methodist Church on Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, Pennsylvania—just a couple blocks from the chocolate factory that made our town rich and renowned, and not far from the amusement park, vintage theater, and golf courses that drew tourists from all over the world.

But then—when I was 13—Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. In wonder and horror, I watched the images that exploded on our black-and-white TV in the aftermath. People in Harrisburg—just 12 miles away—were setting fires and breaking windows and destroying their neighborhoods. In ominous, fear-laced whispers, people in my neighborhood, and in my church, warned that soon they would be coming to tear down our park and tear up our golf courses. When the adults around me used the phrase “race riot,” I thought they were referring to people racing to get out of the way of the coming mayhem.

Continue reading “Birds-Eye View”