opal’s quilt

DSC08857DSC08930Late in my pregnancy with Opal I decided I had to make a quilt for her.   Of course, I did not know that she was a she. I had thought we might find out with number three, but John decided that he wanted to wait, and I respected that. DSC08975 DSC08934

At the time I did not have so much peace with it. Part of me was becoming impatient to meet whoever had decided to join our family. But another part of me desperately hoped the baby was a girl. Not because I favored a girl over a third boy, but because I had always felt certain that there was a girl in our family, she just hadn’t arrived yet. And I longed to know her. I had already awoken from sleep life with her name lingering: Opal. I can’t imagine having discovered this name on my own. And, for the last two months of my pregnancy, I felt the need to surround myself with all things pink and lace and flowers. Finding myself at the fabric store, this is just what I ended up with. DSC08933Now that we know Opal, it is clear that she is not exactly sugar and spice and everything nice. I may have been more on the mark with every variation on fire and immovable mountains for fabric choices. But, half complete when I went into labor, and finished in fits and starts since then, she will be stuck with it. I think it will appeal to the small, Victorian pink, part of her that swoops in for a passing snuggle here and there.DSC08848

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My perfectionist days falling behind me, I enjoyed the process of stitching this quilt. (I will, at the very least have to look up some pointers on bindings before I make another one. This one is too flawed to be reproduced.) I do not say this with sentimentality but with matter-of-factness in regards to how our thoughts affect what we create: this is a quilt stitched with love and prayers. So, perhaps it is not so important, in the end, that it is a pink quilt for a not pink girl. I think it will do.

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emerging priesthoods

Early April in Denver is a time of expectant silence. The crocuses have come and gone, but the other bulbs build our anticipation of spring, with emerging leaves and tightly closed budding blossoms. There is frequently snow on the ground in shady places, left over from fast moving overnight snowstorms that come off the mountains and cover the Front Range in a heavy white blanket until about midday, when the high altitude sun sends water pouring into gutters and rushing off the eaves. The grass is greening up, and one realizes that it is hard to be sure when it even became brown. That sun, a welcome warmer in winter months, already has a touch of its oppressive summer heat in it. In one short week, spring will have arrived in full bloom, but this first weekend in April remains charged with the moment before, and one cannot help but direct one’s focus to what is next to come.

It was in this setting that a small group came together for a conference on the Priesthood, led by Reverend Bastiaan Baan with support from Reverend James Hindes. Our size echoed the picture of the Christian Community movement in America: small but energized and steadfast. Each of us left the weekend with a deeper understanding of the Being of the Christian Community and the priest’s relationship to this Being. We also walked away with great deal of material for further contemplation, and gratitude for so many fruitful exchanges with new friends.

As the weekend progressed, a theme began to emerge: priesthood is not limited to becoming a priest. The qualities that are asked of the modern priest are those that we can all strive toward. Each of us can stand before the altar of life, allowing our own individuality to become a bearer of the spirit. We can prepare to stand before this altar by cultivating a meditative and prayer life that connects us to our highest selves, and to those Beings whose destinies are interwoven with the fate of humanity. We can cultivate our capacities and ask of ourselves, “Where can I be used to do the most good?” We can order our physical lives so that the spiritual world can take hold of and enliven the dense matter that surrounds us. We can cultivate relationships that support others in discovering their own highest selves and in embracing their destinies with courage. We can refuse to be stagnant, and expect conscious evolution from ourselves, and remember that others are capable of the same. We can bring something of the spiritual, of the substance of the Act of Consecration into or daily life. When the fruits of our labor are not readily apparent, we can cultivate faith, “the ability to see the spiritual through the physical,” until the harvest is revealed to us. If each of us can strive to do even one of these things, then the Being of the Christian Community will no doubt walk beside us as we begin to meet the many challenges of our troubled world. And then, perhaps, before we know it, we will find each day beginning with the expectant silence of what is to become.

(Originally published in the Spring 2014 Newsletter for the Seminary of the Cristian Community North America.  Here’s where you can find out more about the Christian Community)

garlic

IMG_0844  The story of the Reinhart Family Garlic is actually a continuation of a story that Keith Stewart has been telling for decades on his farm in upstate New York. (You can check out more about him in his two books: It’s a Long Road to a Tomato and Storey’s Guide to Growing Organic Vegetables.) His neighbor once offered him a handful of hard neck Racombole garlic to see if he could make anything of it, and Keith proceeded to cultivate some of the northeast’s tastiest garlic.

Eight years ago, shortly after moving to Colorado, John and I planted our first crop of Keith’s Farm garlic. We were living in my in-law’s backyard– in a shed turned studio, but mostly still shed, next to a donkey pen. Looking back I cannot quite recall why it was so important for me to have this garlic. At the time I suppose I was just so excited about growing anything. My time at Keith’s had awoken within me a sleeping giant of stewardship, and I could not help but bring life to the world around me, be connected to the ways in with the earth nourishes us. All these year later, I would not likely question why I planted that garlic in the dry silt of my in-laws’ backyard. Coaxing the food my family consumes into existence has become like breathing—a cornerstone of our lives.

As life goes, I could hardly imagine that one day I would be harvesting the offspring of that first crop with three little people we shepherded into life. Even in years when the arrival of a baby in April prompted us to let the garden rest for a season, or a move left us eating green garlic and hoping my in-laws (who have also grown Keith’s garlic on occasion) would have enough to share come planting time, this garlic has been a constant in our lives. It has looked on as two individuals became a family. Planted a home. Birthed a child. Then another. And another.   This outward streaming streak of green leaves and pungent bulbs has stood sentinel to what the natural world accepted long ago, but man fights to avoid: we evolve through the ever-present, objective cycle of change.IMG_0842

This year, those three little people were big enough to do more than tug wet-earth-smelling-bulbs out of the ground in mid-July. My eldest, Mattheus, helped in the measuring and planting. He watched in anticipation as the green shoots emerged too early (as we are prone to early warm-ups and late frosts here in Denver), and asked many nights if we needed to cover the garlic, then dug through the garage for old feed bags and moth eaten blankets. And, when, after a few years of Mama pondering, “maybe we’ll plait it,” I actually had time to watch the five minute Youtube video to learn how to do it, he eagerly prepared the harvest for me—cleaning the bulbs and cutting the roots, exploring their unique balance of tender toughness (okay, yes, sometimes banging them against the table to see just how tough) When I watch him, really watch him in these moments, that part of me that laments his urban existence heals an infinitesimal amount.IMG_0839

The story goes that, seeing the success of the garlic, the neighbor returned to Keith with a handful of pennies.  “Think you can do anything with these?”  For Keith it was a few cloves of garlic and a farm was born.  For the Reinharts, we unwittingly set our roots as a family into the ground when we planted our first crop.  Where will be the next time we pull in a harvest?  Only the ever-present cycle of change could guess.