Take Up Your Red Nose

Image: Matilda’s Debut, Summer 2014, Photo by Joshua Sage.

by Veena Vasista. This first appeared in Geez 64: The Holy Fool.
I arrived to my forties wonder-full.

Wondering how to love. Wondering, as a long-time human rights activist, how we can possibly create liberation when we continually replicate the oppression we claim to be dismantling. Wondering how to be free from suffering.

I’d been journeying along life’s spiral with neck tensed, shoulders curved, and legs weakened from bearing a heavy cross of beliefs: Vulnerability is shameful. I am repulsive and disgusting.

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Games for Fun and Liberation

by Tim Nafziger. This first appeared in Geez 64: The Holy Fool.

I’ve included a mix of light party games, games that have become widely popular in the board gaming community and a few less well known games with a liberation orientation. I’ve roughly ordered them from simplest to most complex (with the exception of the last game on the list). In other words, if you are looking for a game for a party, start at the top. If you are looking for a satisfying compex gift for a board game geek, start at the bottom.

Code Names, Vlaada Chvátil (2015) I’ve seen this game delight again and again at parties. It is a team game where a clue giver on each team tries to give one word clues that connect disparate words together. It takes a minute to understand and join in and offers suspense and intrigue in just the right doses.

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The Courage to Quit

Image credit: “Broccoli florets find their seed after a long winter,” May 2021, Detroit, Michigan, photo by Lucia Wylie-Eggert.

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann. This piece first appeared in Geez 64: The Holy Fool.
My mom once wrote, “We need to recall, to intuit, to dream the life we’re called to and then make a plan that allows us to strip down enough to have it” (The Witness, 1998).

We stand at a moment of mass resignation. Folks are leaving work in every sector. After years of a pandemic and the impending threat of climate change, folks are seizing control of this one precious life. Yet to walk away is terrifying. By most standards . . . foolish. Well, we are here to bless those fools in our midst. May these words offer courage and company.

Oh holy one
who dabbles as a trickster
yet calls us to be unafraid.
Wrap your spirit around
this holy one before you.

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Foolish Ancestors: Tricksters from Around the World

Image credit: “Francis and the Birds”, Giclee, 17.5” x 14.75”, Copyright 2015 by John August Swanson.

By M. Ashe Van Steenwyk. This article first appeared in Geez 64: The Holy Fool.
Within Christianity there is a strange subset of the prophet called the “holy fool.”

Holy fools defy social convention in both word and action – sometimes in bizarre ways – out of their religious devotion.

In the West, Saint Francis is our typical holy fool. Born in the late 12th century, Francis was known for famously renouncing his inheritance by stripping naked, kissing lepers, preaching to forest creatures, and living a life of such stark simplicity and deep generosity that it sparked a movement that continues to today.

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Echoes of the Green Corn Ceremony

Detail of “Water is Life” by Soni López-Chávez

By Joshua S. Hopping | Published in Geez Winter 2022 Issue

The water rippled and splashed as the People waded into the Long Man and turned east towards the rising sun.

Holding their hands so that their fingertips touched their breasts, they plunged under the cold water before turning to the north and repeating the ritual. Seven times they did this as they continued to turn counterclockwise towards the cardinal directions until they arose from the waters looking west towards the Darkening Lands. Captured in the waters of the Long Man were the pains, sorrows, and misdeeds of the past year, which flowed from their wet souls toward that land where all must one day walk.

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Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Detail of “Heavy Rains” by Olivia Guterson, 2019.

by Andrew Yang | Published in Geez Winter 2022 Issue |

Every Sunday during our meeting at Circle of Hope, our pastor or another member of the community stands up and reminds us that, as the church, we have the opportunity to model a different economic system.

We can share our money for the purpose of mutuality and support one another while remembering what we owe one another: common resources shared in love.

This language of giving took on new resonance this year when our church team, Circle Mobilizing Because Black Lives Matter, took on an ambitious project. The racial wealth gap in the United States is vast, with the net worth of a typical white family valued ten times higher than the wealth of a Black family. This gap is due to injustices both historical and present, including mass incarceration, red lining, segregation, and of course, the slave trade.

So what if we asked white members of our church to give money, which we then redistributed to Black members of the church?

My team’s co-leader, Bethany Stewart, once jokingly posted an article onto her social media feed asking people to “Venmo their Black friend $50,” and was surprised when people actually took her at her word. This experience made us realize that people were actually willing to put their money where their mouth was, so to speak, in terms of racial justice and reparations.

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Food and Land in the Shmita Year: A Release from Old Paradigms 

Sarah Barker CC, Herb spiral, May 2011.

by Carly Sugar | Published in Geez Winter 2022 Issue

It’s fall in the Shmita year of 5782 according to the Jewish calendar and I am putting up squash. And tomatoes. Peppers.

The last of the stone fruits and first of the pomes. There’re flushes of maitake in the forest and deer hunting season has just begun. As I fill my shelves and freezer with this season’s abundance, I am reminded of this ancient, radical, and deeply needed practice of my tradition – shmita.

Under profit-driven systems we are inundated with messages that more is more, that the oppression of people and land is necessary for food and other resource security, and that we must value the well-being of the individual over the communal. In the modern U.S. food system, we see a seemingly boundless accumulation of privatized (stolen) land and wealth in the name of producing enough food to feed us all. But because profit is priority millions are food insecure, people and the land are exploited, and a few are making billions.

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Blessing for a Rest

“Two resters nap together during The Nap Ministry’s installation ‘A Resting Place,’” Tabia Lisenbee-Parker, September 2019, Atlanta, Georgia.

by Kate Suffling | Published in Geez Winter 2022 Issue

May you take full and gulping the
deepest breath you’ve ever drawn

And hold it in your belly, full,
a stretch that slows the heart and mind,
Slackens fibres now recalling
How to loosen, how to lessen,
how there’s nourishment in surrender.
Begin the softening, slump and slumber,
slow the spinning, the wanting, the needs
Except for this one, the one called rest.
She has stood outside at the door,
Not banished, but told to wait
With “Until I . . . ”, and “until it . . . ”,
until she turned to slumber.
May you wake her now, draw her in,
lead her by the hand.
She’s surprised and exultant,
but moving sweet and slow.

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