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2019-02-22

From the Minister, Fri Feb 22

The 2018-19 UUA Common Read is:

Come discuss the book! Fri Mar 8, 7:00 at CUUC.

This week, I’m looking at Chapter 10:
Peggy Clarke, "Eating the Earth.”

Rev. Clarke begins with the story of what rewarding fun she found when she joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) – the party with friends who came over to celebrate and partake of the bounty; and learning to can with her neighbors.

Then she got involved with a project to bring people together across generational lines. A community garden seemed just the ticket. “In light of consistent reports of isolation from every corner of American culture, participating in life-sustaining, communal, multigenerational activities that deepen our connection to Earth could become a healing balm” (110).

She co-founded InterGenerate, “a small food-justice organization” for establishing community gardens for which participant neighbors pay $50 a year and commit to “shared work and communal engagement.” A couple years in they were up to four gardens and an “experiment of communal caretaking for about 45 chickens with 25 households.”

Bananas, for instance, from a New York grocery store come to us from Latin American plantations created from deforestation and habitat destruction. They come to us from farm workers who pick them, earning less than a living wage; women who drop them into vats of a carcinogenic solution that slows ripening, at risk of illness and early death from exposure to those chemicals; workers who box them and others who truck them, driving diesel trucks that burn fossil fuels and produce pollutants.

“I am accountable,” says Clarke, “for how food gets to my plate” (112). I’d say, rather, that we are responsible, but not accountable, and we’d like to accountable. We yearn for relationships of accountability; the meaning of our lives flows from embeddedness in relationships that compel us to account for ourselves. That we aren’t accountable to the food supply-chain contributes to deracinated (literally, “uprooted,” appropriately enough), alienated lives. What we desperately need is to become accountable – to form relationships that hold us accountable. In the cooperative labor and the sharing of neighborhood gardens, along with the sustaining food, participants are fed by robust, hearty accountings they give and receive, in word and in body -- rather than the wan, abstracted, depersonalized accounting offered by the credit card swipe with which we buy bananas.

Neighborhood gardens build relationships and build community. They reduce our carbon footprint and contribute to saving the planet. They offer an alternative to the food system in which labor is exploited and polluting effects are felt mostly by the poor and communities of color.

These gardens transform participants from isolated and disconnected lonely individuals into people connected to their neighbors and to the good earth. It’s about the food, “but it’s also about harvesting a deeper way of living. It’s about planting and watering and weeding and harvesting community. It’s about deeper life, better life, shared life. It’s about being transformed” (116)

Questions:
1. “Food deserts” are places where affordable access to fresh produce and other healthy food options is limited. What food deserts are in and around Westchester?
2. How much do you know about the food supply-chain that brings food to your table? How might knowing more change what you do, and change you?

For my reflection/summary on previous chapters, click the title:
  1. Jennifer Nordstrom, "Intersectionality, Faith, and Environmental Justice"
  2. Paula Cole Jones, "The Formation of the Environmental Justice Movement"
  3. Sheri Prud'homme, "Ecotheology"
  4. Sofia Betancourt, "Ethical Implications of Environmental Justice"
  5. Adam Robersmith, "Cherishing Our World: Avoiding Despair in Environmental Justice Work"
  6. Peggy Clarke, Matthew McHale, "Becoming Resilient: Community Life for a New Age
  7. Kathleen McTigue, "Drawing on the Deep Waters: Contemplative Practice in Justice-Making
  8. Pamela Sparr, "Transforming Unitarian Universalist Culture: Stepping Out of Our Silos and Selves
  9. Kathleen McTigue, “Learning to Change: Immersion Learning and Climate Justice
Yours in faith,
Meredith

The Liberal Pulpit New:
Index of past sermons: HERE. Index of other reflections: HERE.
Videos of sermons are on the Liberal Pulpit Youtube Channel: HERE

Practice of the Week: Cultivate Self-Acceptance With practice, there’s no reason you can’t break the cycle of self-rejection. Step One: Agree to be willing to try another way. Step Two: Once the willingness is established, identify ways in which your old responses are attempts to reduce suffering by avoiding certain internal experiences. Step Three: Identify ways in which these entrenched and automatic responses have the paradoxical effect of increasing suffering. READ MORE

Your Moment of Zen: Attainment FDR famously told us, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." But that's a lot to fear! Fear is powerful and not easily subdued.

In an opposite -- yet similarly paradoxical -- vein, we might say that we have nothing to attain except the awareness that we have nothing to attain. But that's a lot to attain!

Then there's remembering that we have nothing to attain. Even if we attain a moment of the awareness, it is easily soon forgotten. Attaining a life of continual remembrance that we have nothing to attain -- that's even harder to attain. Yet...there's nothing at all to attain. Never has been.

The verse by Keizan Jokin (1268-1325) for Denkoroku case #41 (translated by John Cook) makes the point:
Seeking it oneself with empty hands
You return with empty hands;
In that place where fundamentally nothing is acquired,
You really acquire it.
Alternative translations of the last two lines include Thomas Cleary's: "Where there is fundamentally not attainment, /After all one attains." And Hubert Nearman's: "Since, from the first, there was nothing to realize, /now, being satisfied, I have realized! (tr. Hubert Nearman)

Case
That same evening Owl said, "I've heard that you should not try to attain anything. What do you think?"
Raven said, "Not attain anything? Then what are you doing here?"
Owl said, "I think the idea is that we're Buddhas already, so there's nothing to attain."
Raven said, "An attained being said that."
Verse
One eye sees the effortlessness,
   of mountain, river, hackberry and elm
The other eye sees the minute and vast efforts
   of the earth pushing up a mountain,
   of water pushing a path around every rise,
   of photosynthesizing leaves, nutrient-grabbing roots,
      and a trillion busy cells.
Depth perception takes two angles of view.
Case by Robert Aitken, adapted; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
Zen at CUUC, Sat Feb 23: SEE HERE

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