by Naomi Lawrence,
FLASHBACK to June 8th 2012
It’s about 9pm and I suddenly remember that tomorrow is the much anticipated International Yarnbombing Day and somehow it slipped my mind. I grab my tape measure, run to the corner of my Cambridge street, and measure a lamppost – its height and circumference. At home I scramble together some knit and crochet swatches then return to sew the piece on, take some quick pictures and then head home. There’s a flurry of excitement in the bakery the next morning on the opposite corner. I hear the staff gossiping about the press and when its my turn to be served I lean across the counter and whisper “it was me”.
I’m hooked and now there’s no going back.
Fast forward 9 years. I am now living in Harlem, NYC and I am known internationally for my ‘next level yarnbombing’ and one of the only fiber artists in the world making large scale 2d crochet flowers. I work with local fiber artists on collaborations, consult community groups who are wanting to make a yarnbomb, teach crochet in schools at the same time as making my art and working on private commissions. My ‘hobbie has turned into a jobbie’.
But it’s more than a job or vocation, this is my ministry and I feel this is where God is calling me to be right now. In the slow patient process of making art with others using the craft of crochet. In 2018 we joined a Christian order called InnerCHANGE ‘a family of Jesus followers whose lives are bound together by common rhythms, commitments and values’. Through this international community we feel better equipped to ground ourselves here and now in our 2nd year of a 3 year apprenticeship we are aiming to grow a team here in New York.
I meet regularly with a group of local women to work on a new piece to beautify the neighborhood and these pieces can take months to make. We work individually at home and keep in regular contact, sometimes meeting once a week in a local church or local community center. These relationships have grown over the years and the women have come to rely on each other as friends, mothers, wives, ex-wives. The emotional support that grows organically is beautiful to see. Then there are the seniors in the Bronx that have an art programmer who reaches out to me and asks if I could work with them to create their own floral mural on the fence of their housing. Four months later I spend 10 hours sewing the seniors flowers onto the fence with one of my local women and we laugh and cry all day. Isn’t God good. I have this life because I am created me to be the woman I am and have the gifts to transform and beautify. And in all this I AM CHANGED.
I’m not the same woman I was when I installed that first yarnbomb in 2012. Boy am I not. I’ve given birth to twins, emigrated to the USA, lost countless friends to chronic illness and addiction and then there’s the whole transformation that comes from finding a way to channel that creative side of me that for so long lay dormant.
These days I’m pretty much working full time on fiber arts projects/yarnbombing and that incorporates all the ‘admin’ involved and there’s a lot of that these days.
Right now it’s Saturday afternoon and I’m just returning from a 4 hr drop-in workshop I run with a local friend at a community center in a NYC housing project. A few women stop by throughout the afternoon to drop off crochet & knit squares for a collective yarnbomb, to collect yarn, have a quick chat or sometimes a long chat. I enjoy the unhurried, slow brewing relationships that develop over time and through consistency. Yes, sometimes there are deadlines and they can be draining but we bounce back and sometimes they’re the ones that pay the bills and enable us to stock up on yarn for future projects.
A community activist and gardener from a community garden in the Bronx recently reached out. They have transformed DOT land into an oasis right beside the Harlem River Parkway and I am helping them to make a 7ft crochet monarch butterfly for the outside of their fence.
I could just make it for them but from day one I invited THEM to make the 200 orange 5” squares and then sew them together at a workshop they hosted in the garden. I see the joy and pride that creators have when they have contributed to a yarnbomb and I want them to feel that. Not just show up and say they love this piece of fiber art created by me but to truly be able to say “I made that” and also “I made this for you” to their neighbors. It will be installed on the outside of their garden facing a busy intersection of a neighborhood inhabited by people who live below the poverty line. Maybe someone will pass by that garden fence one day and will see that butterfly and will feel that they too are loved. These are the stories we retell and maybe those that hear them will wonder if there is a way that they can do something small in their neighborhood. A random act of generosity…
Bio for Naomi Lawrence
Naomi Lawrence is a British Fiber Artist based in East Harlem, NYC. Working with acrylic yarn to create oversized 2-Dimensional site-specific installations.
The Spirituality of Gardening Online Course is available for 180 days of access for only $39.99. This interactive course includes video sessions with Christine Sine as well as 8 other guest gardeners. Visit our store page for more information.
by Tom Sine,
“Don’t Languish, Flourish” & Enable Gen Next to Flourish as a way to Make Space for a Sacred Summer!
The welcomed ending of the pandemic for many of us is not only an opportunity to restart our lives. It is also an opportunity to join those who are creating their best lives.
It is an opportunity for people of faith to discover a new vision of flourishing that will not only enrich their own life but also make a difference in the lives of Gen Next, many of whom are struggling to restart their lives from the deadly grip of the pandemic recession than many of us, who are older, recognize.
I have enjoyed working with and learning from leaders in mainline, evangelical, and Catholic Churches in the US for over 30 years. One of the consistent qualities I have found in all those churches that I celebrate is that they consistently loved their your people and wanted to see them flourish.
What I offer these churches as we race into the turbulent 2020s is what I, and my friend, Dwight Friesen, offer in our new book: 2020s Foresight: Three Vital Practices for Thriving in a Decade of Accelerating Change.
For three decades, I offered Foresight Creativity Workshops. In these workshops, I showed pastors and lay leaders how to:
- Anticipate incoming waves of change so they have lead time to respond;
- Research and create innovative ways to respond;
- Select those innovative responses that most fully reflects the ways of Jesus.
However, while I helped church leaders anticipate waves of change that were likely to impact their churches, their congregations, and their neighbors in the next three to five years, we rarely focused on challenges that were likely to confront gen next.
For example, I wrote an article, “Are You Recession Ready?” in the January 2009 issue of Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal . In 2007, a number of economists were predicting the possibility of a major recession in 2008 to 2009.
In response, I invited 40 Christian leaders in Seattle to join me in brainstorming how to enable those in their churches to prepare for a possible recession. I pointed out that while most corporations had a plan for the next recession I had never seen a church that had that kind of a plan.
These leaders became very invested in creating new ways to enable their members to prepare for a possible 2008 to2009 recession. For example, a Lutheran and a Presbyterian church jointly created courses to enable members of their congregations to enable members to take immediate steps to get their personal finances in order… which proved very helpful for those that took the courses. Other congregations offered courses in food processing that also proved timely. Still other churches posted on their websites those that also had rooms in their homes or cars in their driveways they could share.
In spite of these examples of creative responses, in looking back, we all totally forgot to enable Gen Y, the Millennial Generation, now ages 25 to 40, to also help them to prep for the 2008- 2009 recession. As a consequence, many millennials could not find jobs as they launched their lives. Others could not afford to go to college. Many of them got stuck in their parent’s basement, postponing getting married and starting families. Economists tell us that millennials are still further behind economically that other generations.
As we slowly emerge from the Covid-19 Pandemic and we slowly return to our church buildings, I find that church members still love their young people. However, they are now discovering there are very few of them in most of our churches. Church leaders are discovering Pew Research’s projections over the past decade were right. Growing numbers of Gen Y (ages 25-40) & Z (ages 9-24) are choosing not to affiliate with churches.
However, I find few church leaders that seem to know what Gen Y & Z have to offer. They are the good news generations! Since they are the first digital generations, they are not only much more aware of the issues of environmental, racial, and economic justice but a higher percentage of these two generations want to invest their lives in serious change-making!
I urge pastors and lay leaders to make space for a sacred summer by moving from loving just the young people you still have in your churches to taking time to get to know members of the “good news generations” in your community as well.
I encourage you to join business innovators in enabling young people to:
- Anticipate the opportunities and challenges that are likely to await them in the next three to five years so they can identify new ways to shape their lives and join those who are flourishing;
- Create new ways to join those launching new social innovations to empower the unemployed that are still being hammered by the pandemic recession.
- For example, Justin Beene, a young millennial innovator living in an inter-racial neighborhood in Grand Rapids with high levels of unemployment among the young, secured help from local churches to start the Center for Community Transformation. Essentially, the Center trains unemployed young so they can become self-reliant. The two innovative programs he created in a community with high unemployment is: “Youth Builds” that trains young people in the construction trades and “Rising Grinds”, which trains young people to work in the coffee shops in Grand Rapids as things are opening up again.
Pastors and lay leaders, as you begin to open your church buildings again to resume worshiping in person, I urge you to not only reach out to young people that are still in your congregation, but to also reach out to young people in your community like Justin and his team are doing.
Instead of focusing on getting young people into your church building, find out what their concerns are for the daunting needs of others in the community. Find out the creative ways that Gen Y and Z want to enable others to move from languishing to flourishing too.
For example, for 10 years the Colonial Church in the Twin Cities ran a city-wide social enterprise contest called Innove . Essentially, Colonial Church ran an annual Social Innovation Contest for anyone under 40 in the Twin Cities. Hundreds of young people submitted their creative ideas for ways to make a difference in the Twin Cities. The Colonial congregation didn’t even require applicants to attend their church.
The winner the first year was Leah Driscol, a grad student at a local university. In her research, she discovered that Twin Cities had an unusual problem. Large portions of the city contained under-served neighborhoods where there were no grocery stores. As a consequence, many people paid exorbitant amounts, that they couldn’t afford, having to shop in high priced, small neighborhood shops.
Leah and her team won that first year with a proposal entitled Mobile Market. The church not only gave Leah and her team a cash gift to get started. They also had a team of business leaders in the congregation that served as the launch team every year to help the winner get started. Reportedly, they loved the opportunity to enable young innovators to launch new ways to make a difference in their community.
Leah and her team used the prize money to purchase a used school bus and they transformed it into a Mobile Market that took their reasonably priced food and produce to different under-served neighborhoods everyday. The last time I heard, Leah and her team were operating four remodeled school buses in Mobile Market to make a real difference among seniors and those with limited incomes.
As you and your church make space for a sacred summer and consider enabling your members to travel from languishing to flourishing, could you also consider inviting young people in both your church and larger community to launch innovative ways to enable struggling neighbors to experiencing a little flourishing as well?
We urge you to identify new challenges facing Gen Y and Gen Z, also identify new innovative ideas they have for community changemaking, and see the new ways that they and some of your struggling neighbors join these new opportunities for flourishing in the turbulent 2020s!
Check out my book on how to launch social innovations with a rude title: Live Like You Give a Damn! Join the Changemaking Celebration.
Adapted from original post found on newchangemakers.com
The Gift of a Sacred Summer… OPEN THE GIFT OF REST
38 Jesus and his disciples went on their way. Jesus came to a village where a woman named Martha lived. She welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary. Mary sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was busy with all the things that had to be done. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, my sister has left me to do the work by myself. Don’t you care? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered. “You are worried and upset about many things. 42 But few things are needed. Really, only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better. And it will not be taken away from her.”
Are you feeling more like Mary or Martha these days?
What would it be like to intentionally play, to rest at the feet of Jesus?
What would that look like in your life?
Could you actually choose to rest with Jesus this summer?
Why is it so hard for us to rest?
Why do we feel guilty when we are not being productive?
What makes us think that rest isn’t valuable? Or necessary?
The God of the entire universe created REST! And God actually RESTED! God also put REST in the middle of the ten commandments. God believed that we needed rest in order to love our neighbors.
We cannot really love or serve or protect others or ourselves when we are burned out and exhausted!
I have said this a lot in recent days. I’m exhausted! I think we all are exhausted! I’m not even sure we understand what this past year has done to us. It’s been a very tiring 15 months… and for many, the exhaustion is continuing as the pandemic is still with us and people are still getting sick and dying. We need time to pause and process these past months. We need time to refill our cups even as we are excited about getting back to more normal activities.
How can you choose to open the gift of REST this summer? How can you choose to PRACTICE REST?
We have to practice a spiritual practice like REST, just like we practice the piano or guitar.
What things block you from practicing rest?
How would a practice of REST restore you? What things bring you joy? What things fill up your cup?All these can be included in your rest practice, not just taking a good rest on the couch or long nap.
Here are some other ideas to help you practice REST this summer:
FIND A REST SPOT: Choose or create a spot to practice rest this summer. A place where you can be with God and be intentionally present with Jesus. A place that can be your spot to be still, to pray, to create, read, and rest. Maybe you already have a designated spot where you meet with Jesus each day. But if you don’t, consider choosing a special place for yourself. It might mean moving a chair to a different spot with a view out the window. It might be a rocking chair on your porch or balcony. It might mean creating a rest space on the floor with pillows and blankets. Or, if you have room, putting up a tent or a hammock in the yard and using the outdoors as your Sacred Space for the summer. If you have young kids you might want to create this space together. Tricia Hersey, @thenapministry on Instagram, talks about creating a “rest island” out of your bed so kids can be on Rest Island with mom or dad and their object is to rest, breathe, ans be still. It’s great to teach kids early the value of rest.
MAKE A SABBATH BOX: Use a large basket with a lid, or a cardboard box with a lid, or any box/container you choose to be your Sabbath Box. Decide to put away your phone, your laptop, the remote, or game controllers for a set length of time in order to rest and be present to God. In Jewish homes, the Sabbath Box is used for the 24 hours of Shabbat putting in it anything that distracts from time with God. I suggest keeping a pad of paper or post it notes and a pen next to your sabbath box. Then anything that feels distracting, thoughts, worries, fears, or To-Do’s that will keep you from resting and being present to Jesus can be written down and put in the box and given to Jesus/God to hold for you while your rest!
CREATE A PLAYLIST: Create a summer playlist that will help you truly rest. What songs would help you rest, relax, and breathe?
PLAN A SABBATH DAY or afternoon: What would your perfect sabbath day look like? What would you do or not do? What would restore your soul? Talk to Jesus about this. Talk to your friends or family about how you could have an actual sabbath rest day.
CREATE A REST COLLAGE, PRAYER, POEM or ART RESPONSE: Consider what rest and sabbath mean to you and create something in response to this. Ask Jesus for inspiration.
“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There’s almost no such thing as ready. There’s only now. And you may as well do it now. I mean, I say that confidently as if I’m about to go bungee jumping or something – I’m not. I’m not a crazed risk taker. But I do think that, generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”
“Each of us needs an opportunity to be alone, and silent. To find space in the day or in the week, just to reflect
and to listen to the voice of God that speaks deep with us. Our search for God is only our response to his search for us. He knocks on the door,
but for many people their lives are too preoccupied for
them to be able to hear.” Cardinal Basil Hume (Benedictine monk, England 1923-1999)
REMEMBER THIS FROM JESUS: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 THE MESSAGE
LET’S PRAY TOGETHER:(actually breathe in these things)
Jesus, I Breathe deeply in the gift of rest. I Breathe out fear.
I Breathe deeply in the gift of rest. I Breathe out busyness.
I Breathe in the gift of rest. I Breathe out stress.
I Breathe in permission to rest.
I Breathe out weariness.
I receive the invitation, Jesus, Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest.
Thank you for the gift of rest. AMEN
Embark on this healing journey with Christine Sine, Lilly Lewin, and Bethany Dearborn Hiser with the Time to Heal Online Course. Each session is lead by one of our instructors and allows you 180 days of access for only $39.99. The goal of this course is to provide time, space, and tools to work toward healing.
photo and post by Barbie Perks,
Matthew 5:1-2 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them… The spot overlooking the Sea of Galilee is one of the sacred spaces in Israel and many tour groups spend a morning there. I like to think of it as one of the very first camp/conference experiences in church history! With Jesus as the main speaker – how awesome, and how blessed were those who attended.
As a teenager/young adult, one of my favourite places to go on a youth camp was a site called Cyara. It was an idyllic site, set in the foot of rolling hillside, looking out on the Magaliesberg range, and the secondary site was across the main road, with a little river running through it. A truly magical place to be for a child brought up in the city, with little access to open countryside. The name Cyara was an acronym for Come Ye Apart, Rest Awhile (based on Mark 6:31).
As an older adult, a different campsite was part of our lives and ministry. This one was called Sumcay, which was just an acronym made up of the letters of the organisations that were responsible for the building and running of it – Scripture Union and YMCA. It was located at the end of a sand quarry, a spar of “useless” land next to a tidal river (See photo above). But what a blessing that place turned out to be for many thousands of young children, teenagers, and adults. Various ministries, schools, church groups – the site was booked out year upon year.
The camping ministry is a strong tool to get people out of town and into nature, to rest from the frenetic pace of life, and to reconnect with God and with nature. In South Africa, in the late 80’s and ‘90’s, camping also became a vehicle to facilitate reconciliation and education between the people groups. Some truly life changing, eye-opening moments were experienced around a campfire, in a group dormitory, on a tough mountain hike, or lazing on a sunny beach. Moments when God reached down and touched lives, calling young people into a relationship with Himself, and changing the direction of often hopeless futures.
These are strong sacred spaces in my experience. Land that is found, bought, developed and dedicated as places that God can use. Vision that is planted in one or more people, a search that begins, a listening to the Spirit’s leading. Much, much prayer that bathes and saturates the process. Whole lifetimes have been dedicated to bringing people to a place where they can encounter and experience God for the first time, or a place where they can be discipled, taught and grown into leaders God can use in various spheres of life.
- Did you ever go to a camp as a child or teenager? What is your most lingering memory of that experience? How did you encounter God?
- Did you ever serve as a camp leader? What training did you receive and how has that benefited you in adult life?
- Have you ever been part of that sacred moment when someone responded to God’s calling, whether for the first time, or as an act of recommitment?
- Do you have any photographs of these sacred spaces? Dig them out and spend some time with God today, remembering and giving thanks.
- Is there a person you could prayerfully sponsor to a camping experience in your community? You never know what a difference that could make in their lives.
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by Carol Dixon,
St Columba’s Day – which is celebrated on 9 June – is significant this year as it is the 1500th anniversary of his birth in 521 AD. Although his Saint’s Day is actually the anniversary of his death, (he was born on 7 December) this week and the weeks following are a good opportunity to commemorate his life and influence through the ages.
Looking at his life Columba doesn’t seem to be ideal material for sainthood. An Irish nobleman, he is believed to be the great grandson of the famous 5th century Irish High King, Niall of the Nine Hostages and following his education, Columba became a deacon in the church. Columba was volatile and warlike and was eventually banished from Ireland for going against the King’s wishes and starting a feud (over a holy book!) that eventually ended in a battle in which many on both sides were killed so as a penance Columba was sent away from his beloved homeland.
Yet, it was through this enforced exile that Columba and his few Companions came to land on Iona where they started a small religious community and the influence from this inauspicious beginning spread the Christian faith far and wide in Scotland and beyond. The effect of what became known as Celtic Christianity is still felt today and various hymns we still sing have been attributed to him including the prayerful ‘O God thou art the Father of all who have believed’:
I first learned about the story of Columba through taking part in my church in a musical ‘Dove of Iona’ based on his life written by a friend of mine, Rose Reeve who died a few years ago after a long battle with cancer. The musical had a great impact on all who heard it and was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe (and other places such as Durham and the Isle of Iona) before Rose became seriously ill and her beautiful song ‘Peace’ was sung at the thanksgiving service for her life. [The music below is from a live performance with actors & singers, used with permission.]
The story of Columba gives me great hope. It teaches me that however flawed I am and no matter how many mistakes I make, when I turn to God and follow the way of Jesus, great things can happen to bring about the spread of God’s kingdom. I am fortunate to live near the Holy Island of Lindisfarne which under the influence of St Aidan from Iona became the cradle of the Christian faith in England. I have only visited Iona once but in many ways it was like visiting a homeland only heard of from distant relations yet the spirit that pervades both islands is the same Holy Spirit, the gift of Jesus that pervades our lives when we tune into the promptings of God.
Like many of the Celtic Christians who followed him, Columba enjoyed the wonders of God’s Creation. Following my visit to Iona I wrote a hymn celebrating finding God in the beauty of the natural world and set it to the well-known tune St Columba.
Pilgrimage (tune: St Columba)
1 We draw apart from busy life
to set aside some space
and see afresh with open eyes
the beauty of this place.
2 We glimpse each separate grain of sand,
gold glistening on the shore,
and hear the haunting seagulls’ cry
above the breakers’ roar.
3 Each quivering blade of grass reveals
the glory of God’s earth;
in laughter’s lilt, compassion’s tear
the Spirit brings new birth.
4 We join with all creation’s choir
and sing of God’s domain,
the love of Christ in empty hearts
now raised to life again.
5 Refreshed in body, mind and soul
we return to daily round,
our eyes and ears attuned to God,
to serve with love new found.
© Carol Dixon
St Columba’s blessing:
Be thou a bright flame before me,
Be thou a guiding star above me,
Be thou a smooth path below me
Be thou a kindly shepherd behind me,
Today, tonight & forever.
The Spirituality of Gardening Online Course is available for 180 days of access for only $39.99. This interactive course includes video sessions with Christine Sine as well as 8 other guest gardeners. Visit our store page for more information.
This post was originally shared a few years ago, but wanted to repost it for World Oceans Day today. The practice of cleaning up our oceans, beaches, and other bodies of water can be a sacred spiritual practice for this summer or winter.
One way of thinking about sustainability can be found in the Biblical book of John Chapter 10, verse 10. Jesus proclaims that He came to give abundant life. Often when we reflect on sustainability we emphasize restraint, reducing and perhaps a sense of loss. Genesis 1 gives us a picture of the ocean as a place of teeming, abundance, diversity and fruitfulness. Pictures of God’s goodness throughout Scripture focus on His lavishness which we sing of in that simple chorus “How wide and deep and long and high is the love of God.” God’s vision for the sustainable life then is not so much John the Baptist in the desert, but the heavenly banquet prepared for us.
We are subverting that vision of the abundant life through our own creation – plastic. That natural fruitfulness and ecological cycles are interrupted by plastic which does not break down or get naturally recycled as does the rest of God’s creation. We think we need more time so we buy “disposable” plastic plates, which in fact never go away! We think we can save money and buy something plastic which we can then throw away rather than something that will last.
All of this “saving” of time and money ultimately costs us – often time and money, but also our health, mental and physical, and the health of our planet. For plastic does not go away. The deepest ocean depths are littered with our plastic. Clean up the big bits of plastic and there will still be loads of microplastics. Plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics, pieces of plastic less than 5 mm (3/16 inch) in size. A Rocha has developed a toolbox to help you learn about microplastics and take action. I encourage you to check it out, particularly our Bible study. What does the Bible say about plastic? You might be surprised at what you discover in this inductive study.
The science of microplastics is still in its infancy. However, it is becoming clear that these small pieces of plastic are getting into food webs. Krill in Antarctica, which are a small crustacean which whales thrive on eating, are digesting microplastics. The problem is that they are only becoming nanoplastics! Birds appear to have a particularly affinity for the small of plastic that has been in the ocean and many individuals have been found their stomach full only of plastic. We don’t know yet what this means for human health and well-being. These small plastics appear to be like sponges for toxins. Are these toxins bio-accumulating up the food chain, similarly to toxins such as mercury? Scientists are working on this question, but if ever there was a need for prudence it is likely here in our appetite for plastic products.
So do read through blogs and check websites on how to reduce your plastic use – some good ones include the one you are reading and also those by Ruth Valerio. There is a Plastic-Less Living FB site and many websites to help you live more sustainably in regards to plastic pollution, for example the Beat the Microbead site. In A Rocha’s Microplastics Toolbox there is a Media section which will direct you to some of the better ones.
A Rocha International, the Anglican Communion Environment Network and other partners are beginning to mobilise the global church to take part in next year’s coastal cleanup on Sept 15, 2018. A beach cleanup guide is available to help those who want to organise their own events (also in Spanish). We also encourage churches to find a beach cleanup near them using the International Coastal Cleanup website and join their neighbours in this God-honouring and community-serving activity. If you are not near the coast – a lake or river will do just as well! It is a practical way to not just reduce your plastic use, but contribute to the beautifying of God’s world. It is also a lot of fun! Consider adding it to your church’s mission trips as this church did on its trip to the Bahamas. Make sure you let us know so we can track and report on the global Church’s involvement in this important and missional activity.
Most importantly, though, determine in your heart that God’s plan for the planet and for you is goodness and abundant life through Christ. Reflect on how you are subverting that plan through how you use plastic. Sustainability will lead to an abundant life for all – people, places and all the life they hold.
Bio for Dr. Robert Sluka
Dr Robert D Sluka leads A Rocha’s Marine and Coastal Conservation Programme (www.arocha.org/marine). He is a curious explorer, applying hopeful, optimistic and holistic solutions to all that is ailing our oceans and the communities that rely on them. Dabbling in theology, he writes on the interface between Christian faith and marine conservation. He has worked cross-culturally, living for extended periods in Australia, India, Great Britain and his native USA where he currently resides. Robert’s research focuses on marine biodiversity conservation, plastic pollution, and fisheries, particularly marine protected areas. The ultimate goal is to glorify God through oceans and communities being transformed using holistic marine conservation. @BobSluka on Twitter or email him.
by Christine Sine,
I am getting ready for summer. Our retreat on Saturday was an important step in that direction but I have also created a new garden that I will help focus my reflections during the season. I even took the plunge and bought a small fountain for my desk.
When I started thinking about dismantling my Easter/Pentecost garden, I was thinking my new design would revolve around special symbols of summer for me but God had other ideas.
You may remember that a few weeks ago my Meditation Monday was inspired by Psalm 32:8-9 especially the line God’s eyes are my guide. As I thought about the coming season those were the words that came to me again. Then on our recent retreat to the Washington coast, I found this beautiful piece of driftwood on the beach, that looked as though it had eyes in it.
I also found a piece of dried kelp that looked like a pair of spectacles – perfect objects for my new garden! I embellished it with a stream of pebbles and a few plants then had fun painting a couple of rocks while reflecting on my theme. Because the garden didn’t look quite finished, I casually threw in the latest addition to my heart shaped rock collection. I also purchased a small table top fountain so that I could more fully visualize the pebbles in my garden as the stream of my life through which God is guiding me.
Would you believe it – it was those heart shaped rocks so casually thrown into the garden that have become my focus of attention this week. And I am sure this is only the start of the lessons God intends to reveal to me as I reflect on my new creation. That is part of why I am drawn to create gardens like this. The revelation of God they provide comes both in the creating anding and the later times of reflecting. They are such a special form of spiritual practice for me.
Over the weekend I was reading a passage from Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love. She wrote this book in response to 15 visions she experienced following a severe illness and then spent the rest of her life seeking the meaning of them. Revelations of Divine Love, is a tender meditation on God’s eternal and all embracing love.
And from the time that the vision was shown, I desired often to know what our Lord’s meaning as. And fifteen years and more afterwards I was answered in my spiritual understanding, thus: ‘Would you know your Lord’s meaning in this thing? Know it well that love was his meaning. Who showed it to you? Love. What did he show you? Love. Why did he show you? For love. Keep yourself therein and you shall know and understand more in the same. But you shall never know nor understand any other thing forever.’
Thus I was taught that love was our Lord’s meaning. And I saw quite clearly in this and in all, that before God made us, he loved us, which love was never slaked nor ever shall be. And in this love he has done all his work, and in this love he has made all things profitable to us. And in this love our life is everlasting. In our creation we have a beginning. But the love wherein he made us was in him with no beginning. And all this shall be seen in God without end.”
Wow. Love is our Lord’s meaning in all things. God’s love is never slaked. It is from everlasting to everlasting. This morning I turned on my fountain, picked up my heart shaped rock and held it tightly in my hand. I felt as though I was transported into a cool tree covered glade in a forest, sitting beside a stream with the love of God gently enfolding me. God’s eyes guide me and God is my tower of strength because of God’s great love for me and because of God’s desire that divine love might be expressed through my thoughts and actions and it looks as though I need lots of reminders to make that happen.”
So as I look around me this week I wonder: What makes me aware of God’s love, just as this garden and its heart shaped rock have? And in what ways do I express that love? I hope you will join me in not only reflecting on these questions but also considering how you could put them into action.