Monday, July 30, 2007

Shaping Our Pain

Light Pink Lily

I remember reading Freud, ages ago. And he seemed to be saying that humans live by the principle of pain avoidance. To some extent, he was right.

Yet it is ultimately unrealistic to live our lives according to this principle. Pain, unavoidable pain, is sometimes our surprising companion. We cannot escape it.

This past week, I began a journey through such inescapable pain. As did so many of my friends, my church community, who knew and loved the dear brother-father-husband-scientist-elder who passed away.

Around the middle of the week, one of these grieving friends shared a song with me. And I had, without knowing it, shared my poem with her. At the end of the week, another friend told me how she had taken the funeral flowers (with the widow's blessing) and saved the ones that were still fresh, to rearrange them in new designs. She wept and wept as she rearranged them. And so her tears and flowers bedecked our refreshment tables on Sunday. Each of us had begun to touch and mold our pain, through our own particular gifts and loves.

In The Burning Word, Judith Kunst notes that the Jews have long relied on words to shape and reshape their pain. Discussing the book of Lamentations she says, "This painful kneading of words and grief binds the poet to his despair, and at the same time it pushes him through it, toward hope..." (p.55)

I realize that I shape and reshape my pain through writing. In this way, I do not avoid my pain but am bound to it while also experiencing a sense of pushing through it. As I told my friend who shared the song, "I write and the mending begins."

(On a totally different note... today marks one year since Seedlings was born.)

Lilies photo, by L.L. Barkat.

Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.

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Monday, July 23, 2007


Dying Hosta

What to do when a best friend's husband dies
on the eve of your little girl's birthday...

Hang up the phone, lean into the counter
in a kind of conscious faint. Moan.
Moan, a deep cry that comes from a place
you didn't know existed, tremble
and feel the ice cold sensation that begins
rising and falling within you like
Northern Lights
shimmering up and down
a midnight sky.

Take out the black-handled
Henckels and a yellow onion
and chop the pearly flesh into perfect
little squares. Mince the summer
garlic. Scrape it all into a cast iron
pan. Add dried oregano, because you can't
think about harvesting right now... the fresh
oregano just outside the kitchen door.

Turn to the sink and begin. One glass,
one dish at a time. Watch the suds play
at the edges of cobalt blue, fall onto
stainless steel, slide down the drain. Moan
again. A labored moan rising to a muted wail
(you dare not wake the children).

Curse the maker
of lawn mowers. Beg the man
to come back and this time decide
upon a nap instead of the simple exercise
of back and forth on green, where he has
fallen. Did fall. Ask God to turn back time,
if only for this one whose heart has failed
him. Let it not be so, that he has

Turn off the pewter faucet,
the blue flame. Put wilted onions
and herbs in the bottom of a crock pot,
where they will have to wait until tomorrow.
Flick off the recessed lighting.
Go up red oak stairs. Sleep,
a dreamless sleep.

In the morning, sing happy birthday
to your eight-year-old. Kiss her on the
cheek and forehead. Hold her to your
heart. Give her the black-handled scissors
so she may go out into the green.

The birthday sauce will be needing basil, fresh.

And she will go out skipping,
snip it for you at the tender neck.
Put it in your hand with soft, round
fingers. Toss her head, and smile.

Poem and Dying Hosta photo, by L.L. Barkat.


L.L.'s Winter Stores

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Thursday, July 19, 2007


This photo by Gail Nadeau is filtered. And colored. (Not with crayons I imagine.)

When I think of my life, I realize that it too is filtered. Through a lens of grace.

Now there have been times when it was all too different. When my life was filtered through the identity of "victim". Or when everything was interpreted through issues of power, loss or gender. And I suppose these still creep in to veil my days. Memories have a way of shaping and driving us.

And yet. Grace.

The other day Scot McKnight mentioned that he'd done a talk on the restorative aspects of grace. I commented, "Yes, grace is often seen as a one-time offering to the sinner who takes it up and is saved. But grace is wider, longer, deeper, isn't it?"

Indeed. Grace is my filter. It colors my days.

May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy... Psalm 126:5

Photo by Gail Nadeau. Used with permission.

Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.


Inihtar's Grace

Halfmom's Strange Word Post

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Bread Dollars

Bread Labor

Did you know that 80 percent of U.S. consumers would prefer to support sustainable farming? But their tax dollars actually work against the small farms that are more likely to use such techniques? So says Steven L. Hopp, in a sidebar in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Why the incongruence?

It’s due to the Farm Bill, which subsidizes based on volume and crop type…which means that three-quarters of subsidies go to 10 percent of growers (the industrial-scale ones), effectively supporting soy and corn crops and making it hard for small farms to stay viable (including farms in poor countries across the globe...believe it or not, our policies influence "plenty or want" for vulnerable people beyond our borders).

To learn more, we can go to

Or, like the Christian organization Bread for the World is currently requesting, we can call our representatives and senators BY JULY 17, to have a say in how the new Farm Bill is settled.

What to say when we get our senator’s staff on the line? Something like…

- reform commodity policies that hurt small farmers in the U.S. and abroad
- invest in rural development

I figured it was worth bringing this up, since 80 percent of you might believe that sustainable farming is critical. And maybe 67.3 percent of you (that’s my hopeful number) might call your representative and senators today.

(Help me out, Lynet. How many people would that be?)

How to Find Your Senators and Representatives

To call about the Farm Bill, dial 1-800-826-3688. Connects you to Capitol switchboard. Ask for your representative's office to leave a message with his/her staff. Call your senators too.

OR, write a letter on-line to your local newspaper through the One Campaign: Make Poverty History. The site will send your letter (they provide a sample you can use) to any paper you click on (your local papers can be found by inserting your zip code).

Bread photo by L.L. Barkat.

Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

The Full Opinion

I may or may not do more posts on Kingsolver's book. If you want to know my full opinion, you can read my Amazon review here.

Why do I bother to mention this? I had mixed feelings about the book, and I wanted you to know.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Tomato Abstinence

Green Tomato

If we can't abstain from eating a tomato out of season, why should we expect our teenagers to abstain from, well, that pre-marital "activity"?

Essentially, this is Barbara Kingsolver's question, in a chapter called "Waiting for Asparagus", in her new book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Says Kingsolver, "We're raising our children on the definition of promiscuity if we feed them a casual, indiscriminate mingling of foods from every season plucked from the supermarket, ignoring how our sustenance is cheapened by wholesale desires." (p.31)

After a year of trying to eat local, Kingsolver doesn't hesitate to say such bold and bothersome things. After all, she's discovered a deeper love for food. Food at its freshest. Food at its tastiest. Food that exacts less cost on both the natural world and our bodies.

So now I'm mulling this one over. Tomatoes in December? Or abstinence 'til July? (I know, maybe I could only answer this honestly come December!)

My Green Tomato photo, by L.L. Barkat.

Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.


L.L.'s local tea brew


L.L.'s Formerly Known as Delicious

Suzanne's Animal Vegetable Miracle

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