Faithful Farming

I was sent a link to this article recently. It gives me great cheer to read such things. It has been a weight on my heart that organic food is so expensive and that until the last couple of years was relegated to specialty stores. As someone whose income has been hovering around the poverty line (both intentionally and unintentionally) for years it saddens me that the poorer you are the harder it is to get organic and/or responsibly grown food.

I would eat completely different if I could afford it. But between cost and convenience, I haven't eaten as well as I would like in a long while. I say cost and convenience because organic products are more available at major grocery stores these days but locally grown food is still often relegated to farmers markets--which I love but rarely have the time to get to. Time is a big issue for those of us living paycheck to paycheck...I don't have time to eat, much less go to special venues for food.

However, now that grocery stores are offering more organic types of foods sometimes you can get good deals on it. And I keep telling myself the more we buy at the regular grocery the more we can convince someone that this is a viable market and maybe one day we can bring the prices down...though now that I think about it, this point may be mute as it seems regular groceries are costing more and more each week.

What most stuck me about the article though was that it was religious groups leading the way for these more ethical farming practices. It isn't just about whether to go organic or not but that there needs to be more mindfulness of the whole product. The treatment of the workers and the animals needs to be ethical. These are not new concepts for people of faith. The Catholic Worker has had ties to farms throughout its existence.

The combination of faith to bring about ethical farming practices (doing right by the workers, the animals, and the plants) and my undying hope that through continually trying to make organic and whole foods more available on an equal scale to over-processed foods, will one day lead to a level buying field between such products gives me great joy after reading the article.

Another point in this article to reflect on is that sometimes fundamentalism may not be a bad thing...though I would like to think of it more as a Conservatism...as it manifests Conservative Quakers.

So what say you, faithful readers?


Conversations with God: How do you pray? Part 1

I know how to settle myself into worship. I know what it is like to be really centered and in that place of expectant worship. And I have tons of informal conversations throughout the day with my version of God. But how do you pray?

I don't even know how to ask for help or guideance in my everyday life from regular folks. How can I possibly do it in my spiritual life? At night I try to pray in a way I began imagining as a child after reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books. But I really feel that sometimes formal prayer is all about wording. Like the saying, "Becareful what you ask for." So it is with prayer. I feel that if I don't word things just right I will indeed get what I am praying for, but not in the ways I had conceived of it.

I am a big believer in the idea that we can ask all we want for something, but the steps we take to work towards that which we pray, through the way we live our lives, is equally important. As a child I used to pray for world peace...which is a really complex goal that has many intricacies, it needs a combination of prayer and personal action. Now I feel like the big stuff, like world peace and a cleaner, safer environment are the backdrop to my conversations with God. God knows my heart, perhaps better than I do, but it is up to me to address issues weighing on me with God. By asking for help and asking God to take up certain things I can let some of it go to do better Works. Granted, I have been only asking for help with two things for many weeks now. Mostly, its because I haven't gotten the wording right...I am terribly fearful at what will happen if we can't make these things work, God and I. I know I should give them over to his wisdom and powers, but the most important one is something I don't know how to give up...and that is the crux of the issue. It is something that I have little control over, yet the thought of living without it is heartbreaking. And the worst of it is, I do not know what steps I can take myself to help God's plan. But I am going to keep praying...because I am not ready to accept a life without the object of my desire.


Love. Love. Love.

This post is rather long and full of quotes. Bear with me.

Sometimes, I like to listen to mellow music while I work. This means I can listen to a lot of love songs over the course of a day. There are a lot of different kinds of love in my ipod:

"My girl, linen and curls
Lips parting like a flag'll unfurl
She's grand, the bend of her hand
Digging deep into the sweep of the sand"
-the Decemberists

"and you were no picnic
you were no prize
but you had just enough pathos
to keep me hypnotized"
-Ani Difranco

"And if I could hold on
Through the tears and the laughter
Would it be beautiful?
Or just a beautiful disaster"
-Kelly Clarkson

"I turned around
before I could run
I found you already settled down
in the back of my mind"
-Alison Krauss

"I've got doubts I can't even count.
I've got mirrors that take me apart.
I've got blues, a melting revolt.
I've got songs that stall when they start.
I've got you babe.
Diamonds and pearls, babe.
I've got you girl, that's all I need."
-The Damnwells

"If you want a father for your child
Or only want to walk with me a while
Across the sand
I'm your man"
-Leonard Cohen

"I'll love you till heaven rips the stars from his coat
and the moon rows away in a glass bottom boat."
-Peter Mayer

There are a lot of love songs out there and I know that there are a lot of kinds of love. I'm pretty comfortable with a loving parent/child relationship with my Creator, but I know that doesn't work for everyone. That's okay, because God is all kinds of love.

"Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love."
1 John 4:7-8.

"Everyone who loves" is a strong statement. On the other hand, saying that knowing love and knowing God are the same thing seems overly simplistic. Especially when our culture has a great deal of trouble distinguishing between love and like:

Bianca: There's a difference between like and love. Because, I like my Skechers, but I love my Prada backpack.
Chastity: But I love my Skechers.
Bianca: That's because you don't have a Prada backpack.
-10 things I hate about you
Is it the act of love which makes us open to the knowledge of God? Are we to believe that the capacity for love is inherently human, something which each and every one of us is born with, just as each of us is born with an inherent knowledge of God?

I don't have the answers to these questions. All I know is that I know God in an intimate and yet limited fashion, just as I know love in an intimate and yet limited fashion. I know what it is to be loved and to love, both my neighbor and my God. Oh, and I know that those feelings are pretty awesome.

Elizabeth Bathurst

Personal Query #8

Remembering that excesses which are harmful to human beings are abhorrent to Friends, what can I do to lessen such excesses in my own life, or by example to help others?

I generally think of this query as being about addictive substances. I don't drink to excess any more, I have valid prescriptions for all the drugs I take, and I've smoked about 3-5 cigarettes in the past year or so. I encourage my friends to hang out at times in ways that don't include drinking, especially those who might be drinking a bit much lately. I don't share my pills with folks who would like to take them recreationally. All of this could make answering this query quite easy.

But when I broaden it out to think about what excesses I do have in my life, the picture isn't as pretty. Do I spend my money and time on frivolous things? All the time. How many pairs of leather-free shoes counts as excessive? Okay, I really don't need to ask that question. I know I have more than enough pairs of shoes. But is my shoe collection harmful? I don't know. The hot pink pumps are frivolous, to be certain, but at what point does frivolity become harmful? Is there a time/financial limit? Is one hour of mindless television okay? What about four?

I debated on whether to buy the pink pumps. They are utterly ridiculous. They were also less than five bucks at Goodwill. They amuse me and a little bit of money went in a charitable direction. I think that so long as I'm asking myself if each decision is frivolous, excessive or harmful I'm going to come out okay in the end. It's about being mindful, not about precise pre-prescribed judgments. At least, that's how I see it right now.