The Kinship Project

On 2 February 2020, I presented the following forum at my church. It is part of an ongoing parish spiritual formation series.


The Kinship Project: Protecting, Enriching, and Serving our Immediate Environment

We are at a crossroads. The science is clear. We must reduce our carbon emissions (and carbon equivalent emissions). We have a decade, at best, to make significant changes or we will face a future that looks radically different than our past, our future, or the hope filled world of Star Trek. It is a world where untold millions will suffer from extreme temperatures (hot and cold), fires, blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, crop failure, drought, floods, famine, disease . . . but, it doesn’t have to be like that. We, as individuals, can do a lot. We can speak truth to our churches, our neighborhood communities, our cities, our mayor, our Governor, our Members of Congress, our President, etc. We can practice truth by reducing our own CO ee emissions.

These facts are causing stress and anxiety among our younger generations. They see and know that they are the ones who will live and die with these changes. As I watch the young climate activists, I notice they all have the same exasperation. We tell you the facts, and you do nothing. We tell you that we are less likely to die of old age than you are, and you do nothing. We tell you that the world is in crisis, and you recite “fairy tales of eternal economic growth” and do nothing.

We have failed our younger generation. We have failed them and we wonder why they don’t show up at our church doors.

<Note: As of January 2019, according to the IPCC, we had a carbon budget of 360 gigatons before we reached the tipping point. That is total gigatons, not per annum, left to emit.>

With all this swirling in my head, as I stopped to think about this forum, as I double-checked my research, one thing became crystal clear to me. No amount of knowledge, no amount of scientific fact, no list I give you can really make a difference.

The only thing I have to offer is a “why” :: a value statement. Values aren’t understood simply by our intellect. They are understandings derived from inner experience.

As our Presiding Bishop often reminds us, This is the Way of Love. Where does this idea of love being the center come from? . . . <Read Matt 22: 36-40>

  • Love God
  • Love neighbor

And so I’d like to share the Creation Story of our Kin the Hebrews . . . <Read Gen 2, creation of man>

  • man formed of soil :: stresses our kinship and dependence, we are made of earth not just upon earth
  • till :: ‘avad
    • to cultivate
    • a right to make a living from the soil, we must work the soil to eat from the soil
  • keep :: shamar
    • to preserve, to defend
    • a duty to care for the soil, we need the soil and it needs us.

I would like to suggest that these biblical ideals (Love God, Love Neighbor, Protect the Garden) serve as our reason for practicing Creation Care.

The IPCC suggests that each person living with a carbon budget of 2-3 tonnes per year is the target we should be aiming for. <Of course, businesses must also follow the guidelines, but as they say, “vote with your dollar” and the companies will listen.>

  • Worldwide average = 4 tonnes
  • American average = 21 tonnes
  • That is roughly an 85% decrease in individual emissions.

The factors that have the largest impact on your carbon footprint are:

  • the number of children you choose to have
  • food choices = agricultural methods, meat consumption, plastic wrap, shipping distance, biodiversity
  • Housing = electricity (coal, natural gas), heating and cooling, refrigerator, hot water, washing machine, lighting, landscape maintenance,
  • Personal transport = car, fuel, planes (vs buses and trains)
  • Consumer goods = use of plastic, fast fashion, banking, electronics, healthcare, entertainment, education, lawn

Let’s have a family meeting and see what we can think of . . . remembering that we are focusing on our immediate environment.

When Martin Luther was asked what he would do if the world was ending tomorrow, he replied, “Plant a Tree.”


An Audit

Gasoline: The average American uses 500 gallons per person per year for personal transport

<1.3 gallons per day>

Garbage: The average American throws out 1643 pounds per year

<4.5 pounds per day>

Water: The average American uses 36,500 gallons per year

<100 gallons per person per day>

Consumer Goods: The average American spends $12,000 per year

<$33 per day>

Food: The average American household spends $7000 per year

<$19 per day>

<$4050 at home, $3150 away from home, $483 alcohol>

Electricity: The average American household uses 12,000 kwh per year

<30 kwh per day>

Natural Gas and Propane: The average American household uses 1100 therms per year

❤ therms per day>

Saint Day: Brigid

St Brigid

St Brigid with her crook, cross, and fire. — Feb 1

*Picture source: google images*

St. Brigid of Kildare (c 451-550):

According to tradition, Brigid was born in the year 451 AD in Ireland. Tradition says that her mother was Brocca, a Christian pict slave who had been baptized by Saint Patrick and her father as Dubhthach, a chieftain of Leinster.

As she grew older, Brigid performed miracles, including healing and feeding the poor. According to one story, as a child, she once gave away her mother’s entire store of butter. The butter was then replenished in answer to Brigid’s prayers. Her habit of charity led her to donate her father’s belongings to anyone who asked. Dubthach was so annoyed with her that he took her in a chariot to the king of Leinster to sell her. While Dubthach was talking to the king, Brigid gave away his jeweled sword to a beggar to barter it for food to feed his family. The king decided not to keep her. Brigid went on to establish and lead several abbeys, which is represented in the icon by her shepherd’s crook. Women kept the sacred flame at the Kildare abbey walls which is represented in the icon by the flames behind the St. Brigid cross. 

Brigid is the patron saint of cattle, fire,blacksmiths, poets, motherhood, abundance, and healers. 

Here is a link to a video showing you how to make a St. Brigid’s cross: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WErPG3DiT24

New Harmony, 1

 

 

In bag’s main compartment in a small Eagle Creek specter packing cube: pjs, cardigan, UV shirt, t-shirt, bra, under”roos”, socks,

In bag’s back pocket: Welsh notebook, journal

In bag’s front pockets: water bottle (with filter), Iberian cube (Kind bars, red light flashlight, charging cable, peanut butter packets, Rx), Ultraviolet cube (face serum, sunscreen, deodorant crystal, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, shampoo bar sliver).

In purse: sunglasses, wallet, foldable grocery bag, sun hat, fountain pen, tide stick, go-everywhere pouch (nail clippers, pocket knife, bandaids, Pepto, emery board) and phone.

 

Advent 2018

Advent —   Here is last year’s blog post on Advent. It is much more my philosophy and this year’s post is more pragmatic.

Since renewing my commitment to live a small and regenerative life I notice areas where we are doing ok, but could definitely make some improvements. This year, Advent is getting a slight makeover.

Last year: Advent wreath with paraffin candles, and plastic bits and bobs attached to a wreath frame.

Not too bad, but I wanted to look at how the candles of Advent could be carried forward through the year, how we could use non-paraffin candles, and how the wreath itself could be changed for one that could reflect the seasons.

image

What I’ve come up with is a wreath made from our grapevines, sitting on cardboard, with glass candle holders, beeswax candles, and seasonal decor filling up the spaces between the candles. Ideally (and ultimately), I want Kelly to bring in a round of wood just the size of the wreath so that it becomes its own little table/stool/home altar.

I melt beeswax into little plastic tea light cups (that I use over and over again). I do have to buy the wicks, but I try to find the hemp ones. About 4 years ago I bought 2 pounds of beeswax and we are still using it for candles and salves. Bees are hopefully getting added to our little farm sometime in the next few Springs. That should make the beeswax even better!

image

Each evening of Advent, we light the candle(s) and this year we are reading David Cole’s A Celtic Advent..It is a quiet, peaceful transition into the darker evenings. It lends itself to less television and more reading.  Just the way I like it!

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What I’m reading:  The Celtic Way of Prayer, New York 2140, A Celtic Advent

What I’m listening to: The Last Star and Harry Potter 1 (Sad, but true fact: When we first got Jasper we listened to HP audiobooks every night as a family. Jasper always fell asleep and I would carry him to his bed and then go to bed. Now, he sleeps best if Jim Dale is reading in the background.)

What I’m watching:  Nothing this week

What I’m learning in Welsh:  Lots of vocabulary, a bit of grammar.

  • animals
  • months
  • seasons
  • numbers
  • days
  • plus a ton of review

What I’m thinking about:  Rainwater collection systems, gravity fed household water supply, designing a “sustainable village” for an author, and Advent.

BookNotes: Forest Church

Forest Church: A Field Guide to a Spiritual Connection with Nature
by Bruce Stanley

Read October 2018

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This might be the most important book I could ever recommend to a Christian environmentalist or someone wondering what we ought to be thinking and doing when it comes to creation care.

It isn’t technical. It doesn’t lay out the answers. It doesn’t tell you to change your lightbulbs (although you should).

What it does is inspire you to take your connection to creation one step further. Just one step . . . But, my goodness where that one step might take you.

Ch 1 — Why Go Outside?

  • thin places = places where the boundary between heaven and earth is at its most transparent.
  • First Nations — mountains, water, woods, rock, and river
  • The Food Story and The Sacred Land — This might have been my favorite section. It breaks down belief, lifestyle, and impact of forager/hunter/gatherer vs food producer. I actually got a lot of good ideas for our little farm from this section.
  • Eco-mindedness and biophilia –embracing  our environmental challenges is an urgent issue that we must address.
  • NDD — Nature Deficit Disorder the only cure is go outside
  • Flow — the end of activity where your skill level in in balance with the challenge lever
    • gapped for air we;;-being
    • walking, cycling, drawing, climbing, foraging, playing, gardening, reading, knitting, journaling, photography,

Cha 2 — Reading the Second Book of God

  • Nature-a wild place, “other than human place,” but size is flexible.
  • 3 ways into Nature/Creation:
    • awe: Isn’t it amazing? deep sense of connection, as we is the beginning of wisdom
    • study: academic exploration, “What is it?”
    • meaning: search for insight and relevance, imagination.

Ch 3 –Participating with Nature

  • Pg 53: Ps 115:16, but “Im not sure were up to the responsibility.
  • Permaculture–people care, earth care, and fair share
    • value in nature should be recognized and protected
    • higher value –>primary use
      • example: pure water –> cook, drink, wash :: grey water –> flush, etc
      • example: energy –>solar or wind ::  No to fossil fuels
      • example: tree –>oxygen, shade :: limbs, dead wood –> heat home
  • Be with nature rather than going “into” nature.  i.e. participate
  • From Dominator to Participant
    • Dominator–nature exists to support humans, raw materials for profit
    • Steward — still seen from human perspective, recognize that their are limits to natural resources, entrusted with use not consumption
    • Partner –nature as ally. Animals as allies. life as an interplay of life forms.I am separate but conscious and ethical. Sustainable, organic, ecological care
    • Participant — I exist within the mix of interdependent and interwoven life forms, I am part of nature, respect because of intrinsic value, eco-centric, set limits. Be regenerative not just sutainable
    • Which am I? How can I move toward participant?  It is imperative that we move to being a participant.
    • Regenerative because we have a long way to go to get back to where our systems were actually sustainable.
      • pause before you enter a wild space
      • slow your soul
      • be aware when you intervene in nature

Ch 4–Developing Your Wild Side

  • well being accumulates daily through nature connection
  • more by walking, eating, sitting, working, reading outdoors
  • sit spot, journaling, giving thanks, wild camping, distance hiking, growing your own
  • following nature’s rhythm: day/night, lunar months, Light Half/Dark Half of year (equinox and solstice)
  • The only equipment you really need is;
    • comfortable footwear
    • decent jacket
    • water bottle
    • snack
    • first aid kit
    • phone / camera
    • notebook with pen or pencil

 

I am planning a series of posts where I explore these ideas more in depth.

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What I’m reading:  Harry Potter 3 in German, Cherringham #11, The Celtic Way of Prayer

What I’m listening to: Arthur

What I’m watching:  Doctor Who, The Good Place

What I’m learning in Welsh:

  • Yn well
  • Yn waeth
  • Gwych
  • wedi blino
  • Pwy dych chi?

What I’m thinking about:  regenerative eco-mindedness . . .

BookNotes: Thomas Merton & The Celts

Part 2 of the book notes

Celts, even before migrating to Gaul and the British Isles, highlight devotion to nature and a world inhabited by Spirits.

  • The Greeks called them “mysterious neighbors” who preferred living in natural environments rather than urban cities.
  • a sacredness to everyday place
  • a great sense of imagination
  • seasonal rhythms (Nov 1 = new year, Feb 1 = spring, time for planting)
  • God + humanity + earth = a trinity of social interaction
  • divine harmony — no split between matter and spirit
  • “this=ness” of each animal — glorifying God in the dogness of a dog
  • “this-ness” of hills, woods, grasses, waters
  • thin place = where the “this-ness” collapses and heaven and earth are 3 feet part.
    • groves of trees
    • stone walls
    • mountains
    • springs of water
    • island, peaks, cliffs, valleys
  • Rhythms of 3
    • shamrock — 3 leaves, yet 1 shamrock
    • 3 splashes/drops of water
    • love for neighbor, friend, and foe
    • “to save, to shield, to surround” the household
  • Celtic Knot
    • timeless nature
    • interlacing
    • spiritual and physical, birth and rebirth
    • closed path = eternity, ever-present love of God
    • the “zen” of doodles
  • Not creation entered, but creation filled: “Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, and our our destiny.”
    • intelligence, not learning or education, to understand art
    • work against ugliness by resorting beauty.
    • Welsh poetry–a striking sense that God’s grace is present and at work now, evident in the diversity and richness of creation, and in the way in which apparent opposites belong together and are at one.
    • Creation and redemption are one. Together they are the outpouring of a loving God.

BookNotes: Thomas Merton & The Celts

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Thomas Merton and the Celts
A New World Opening Up
By Monica Weis

Part 1 of the book notes

Definition and areas of overlap:

  • desert saints
  • scripture
  • pilgrimage
  • poetry
  • place
  • nature

Imagination fosters a distinctive way of seeing:

  • here and there
  • natural and spiritual
  • embraces a unity of natural (here) and spiritual (there)
  • landscape reveals the many faces of God
  • the “everywhere” God
  • John S Eriugena (C815-877) — God created all out of his essence therefore the world is a theophany
  • God’s presence makes the world
  • Holy “now moment”

Main Character of Celtic spirituality:

  • doctrine of creation (essential goodness)
  • doctrine of redemption (Christ is love incarnate)
  • Trinitarian
  • Incarnation
  • Held with vigor and clarity –> Christ the Word

Anamhara — soul friend, guide, not a mentor

  • periglour

A Celt is a entholiguist tribal society (societies) in central Europe during the Iron Age that migrated to the British Isles, southern France, Iberian Peninsula, and northern Italy.

  • the value of place
  • the value of tribe
  • the value of people
  • (i.e.: It is the Welsh in me that counts, page 12)
  • (leads to environmental responsibility as we learn the value of place)

Eremitic vs  Centobitic Monasteries:

  • eremitic — hermit monasticism (like St. Antony, 251-356), prayer work, spiritual work, reading
  • cenobitic — community living, communal, charity, humility, obedience, full spiritual lives. Village model, creation centered.
  • In Wales (Scotland and Ireland) when a chieftain became Christian, often the whole tribe became monks and the village became a monastery of sorts.
    • see Skellig Michael, Bangor, Derry, Durrow, Kildare, Clonfekt, Kells, etc
    • Iona and Lindisfarne both set up as village models.\
  • Celtic monasticism focused on allegiance to Abbot contrasted with Roman monasticism which focused on allegiance to Pope.
  • Whitby was
    • bishop vs abbot
    • date of easter
    • baptism
    • ACCD to Esther de Waal– not cataclysmic but local, took a long time to trickle down to all areas of “Celtic lands”

**Merton’s focus is on formation not information **

Celtic pilgrim: holy and insatiable curiosity, simplicity, practicality, tremendous endurance

Celtic Monasticism:

  • gentle way of life
  • retreats
  • sanctity and sweetness of life
  • significance of soul-friend
  • 3 labors of the day
    • prayer
    • work
    • reading
  • poetry
    • immediacy of the moment
    • simplicity
    • integrity of the spiritual
    • life purified from materialism in simple communion with nature
  • pilgrimage
    • a different way of seeing
    • peregrination — setting off on foot or in a small boat without a goal or destination, to discover the place of one’s resurrection
    • journey metaphor is deeply embedded in the human experience
      • exodus
      • odyssey
      • aeneid
      • divine comedy
      • Canterbury tales
      • etc
    • trasana — the crossing place, the divide, the challenge, between the familiar and the unknown
    • ethnic sense of romance and the lore of an ancient wonder-adventure
    • Phases of
      • the longing
      • the call
      • the departure
      • the pilgrim’s way
      • the labyrinth
      • the arrival
      • the bringing back of a “boon”
      • the new self-knowledge
      • the transformed self
    • The Voyage of Brendan
      • all creation is holy and everything is sacred because it is the very outpouring of God’s love.

How does one live out of a transfigured center?

  • cycles of time that revolve around the church calendar (and nature’s cycles)
  • spiritual creativity
  • travel (= aesceticism and discipline)
  • reckoning (=constantly watching so you stay on course)
  • constant care of vessel
  • See hymn — Be Thou My Vision
  • If you are facing in the right direction, all you need to do is keep walking
  • The earth, paradise, because we know in our inmost hearts that the earth was given to us in order that we may find meaning, order, truth, and salvation in it.