Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Church Shared Kingdom Space!

October 6, 2011

This land is God’s. How do I reflect that? How is it demonstrated and fulfilled? I have been mulling things over again and again.

Catie Eliza sent us a card depicting the joke in a photo of a sign standing in a garden “WEEDS for SALE – U-PICK!” .  I laughed and chuckled for days! Like the time my wonderful mum sent me a birthday card with a batty old behatted lady looking totally out of her tree, swamped in shoulder high weeds.

Hilarious as these pictures are and I shall keep and treasure them, they do illustrate well the battles foretold in Genesis 3, 17-19.

However there is no witness here to the restoration and redemption of the land brought in by Jesus’s reconciling work on the cross (Colossians 1;15-20), or at least not enough to impress the unbeliever and witness to that reconciliation which has already begun and I am not satisfied. I believe for more, so I must be acting with too little faith, with too little what?

What are the characteristics of Kingdom activity?

Is what I’m seeking to do dependent upon God; Father, Spirit, Son? Does it serve him, glorify him? I have so far in my walk felt that the answer is Yes to these questions. But I feel too alone in it. I am struggling to maintain the vision specifically, yet my calling to conserve creation is impossible for me to deny. It would be as easy for me to pull off my own right leg!

Conserve. It means to serve with. To serve God with creation which praises him too. His own good,  intrinsically valuable, undeniably beautiful, glorious creation. We depend upon it for our food and well-being and are responsible to God for playing our part in it’s well-being and continued regeneration as we partner him in his creative, loving likeness and image, in obedience to his command.

I struggle because many Christians think ecology is a side issue and not central to the Christian faith. How many of them regard their food, well-being, warmth, safety and that of those they love, and their children and their children’s children a side issue and is that choice to disregard creation stewardship borne out by how often they eat, buy clothes, travel, switch on their heating, go to bed in warmth and safety? There are so many people in the world who cannot take these things for granted and what of future generations, EVEN IN THE WEALTHY WEST? These descendants of ours are our neighbours in time. We have many needy neighbours in space. What about the plants and creatures of the fields and mountains that belong to God, the fish in the sea; are there still any? As long as there is still some cheap tinned tuna in the cupboard to satisfy our 3 meals a day, along with the factory farmed meat at unrealistically low prices, we can carry on…and on and on…blindly ignoring the message that something has to change. So the messenger gets weary. Wants to leave. Gives up and joins the blinkered queue in the low-ethics, who-cares? supermarket.

To serve with creation to God’s praise and glory requires help. That’s why God looked for and found a helper for Adam; eve, and that’s why Jesus has disciples. Church is community. We need unity and integration. I feel alienated by the culture I now work in.

SHAME. This is how I earn my living now, in a Christian Charity that is too side-tracked by washing mops at 90 Celsius every time the floor is mopped, (ready to be walked on immediately by outdoor shoes,) to notice the wider context of the global community; the rest of creation. We are ticking lists of chores where the sluicing of unnumbered poisons into the environment via the drains have to be shown to be done. It’s an existence  filled by busyness posturing as quality of life. We are at breakpoint stress processing proofs ordered by systemic bureaucratic distrust, approving the ‘safe use’ of poisons, out of perspective energy consumption and back covering. It takes current environmental reality denial and ignoring of the global ecological economy. It is sincerely and faithfully prayed over; would God please bless us. Would he? I wonder.

This sounds so cynical. Yet I hope there can be change. It has to be cultural. Eyes need to be opened. For that to be possible, love must persevere; relationships be honoured and protected. In the meantime I am so out of my comfort zone I can’t sleep. Yet if everyone lived my lifestyle, we would still need just over two planets to accommodate us all. I need to repent and improve things too.

Could I open our wasted land, left to itself during my exhausted post shift migraines and days of recuperation to the enthusiastic tending of others? They could care for and harvest crops, enjoy the wildlife and relax in the sun. We could have open air prayer meetings and creative times. I could follow a horticulture course and pass on the skills to interested people locally. The trust  and community involvement would take the Church to a new level of integration with each other, with God and with his creation.

But dare I? So many things I have tried in the past have not worked out. What if it didn’t work? How many people might get hurt in the attempt to give it a chance ? I can’t afford the insurance, even for the things you can insure and there’s plenty you can’t insure against; it’s risky. Yet I can’t  be me any other way and we can’t all afford to not to break out of the chrysalis of this culture of fear muffled by comfort consumption.

 

 

 

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Ice-cream between performances Or: Who is that hobo in the bus stop?

May 5, 2011

apricot honey icecream mmmmmm And look no watch! (Truly time out!)

How is everything going here?

Been selling stuff that’s officially ‘Organic’ since March 2010.  Outlet is a flimsy shed bought on-line. Income is accounted for by customer honesty via a money box tray donated by my most loyal and supportive customer.

Not delivering the boxes because an average of £5 a day takings, before costs taken out, was not a lot considering the slog and investment that went in.

I was saying yesterday, in my support worker role, that my garden is not a god to be worshipped and obeyed, though I accept that in practice, that was how it seemed.

<says aside, ‘funny how disconnected-from-the-land preachers might have condemned me for that, while going for the cheapest possible groceries for their meals of fellowship! What kind of spiritual ‘leisure’ did the slaves who grew it have?’>

I am committed to an agreement to apply to be in the Organic Farming Scheme for the next year and a half. I’m due one more inspection on that count. This means that I can then qualify for European Union money, channelled via the Welsh assembly Government (WAG) Or as I dub them, War Against Gardeners which almost covers the cost of certification. If I thought that I was not ever going to become profitable enough to justify this certification before the 5 years were up, I could pull out and stop claiming and pay back all the money I’ve had so far. (Certification costs over £470 annually now.) Or I can make sure that all 6 of the decent carrots I grow and all the brassicas I’ve grown and composted and all the rhubarb that I’ve grown; about 50 plants, to keep the Treehouse supplied if they wanted it after all, are all grown according to the Organic Regulations as stipulated in European Law, and monitored by the private control body, Quality Welsh Foods Certification Ltd. This way I get approval and can complete the Organic Farming Scheme application in the SAF which all farmers have to fill in each year.

I feel like a 15 year old biding my time at school until the legal leaving age!

However, I still enjoy doing the growing and finding that a few days a week I have sold some of the produce. I am not giving up.

The many oaks I grew from acorns in the year I started the business are in new leaf. One or two casualties of the long dry springs of the past 4 years have to be accepted with a philosophical shrug. The Welsh poppy seed  Catie and I scattered in the dry soil around the newly planted saplings have, here and there, resulted in bright orange and yellow sunspots amongst the long grasses.

I have no salads in the shop today because instead of harvesting I’ve been messing around trying (in vain) to update and illustrate my other blog: http://www.jowdy.wordpress.com

I now work as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities three late afternoon / evenings a week. I sometimes managed to get in some deliveries before an afternoon shift.  But I didn’t pursue more orders.

Support work is exhausting and draining. Not because of the people we support usually; it’s the organisational hierarchy and red tape that’s paralysing. The ‘challenging behaviour’, as its nicely called can be traumatic sometimes. All credit to the current manager that we don’t get spat on, kicked and pushed around routinely as once we did. As a consequence of the job overspill into life and time off there is not the same degree of focus and drive available for the business. To a degree the ‘battlecry’ has died in my heart. That is probably why I lost my market with The Treehouse in Aberystwyth.

I was indignant for several reasons towards my employer and The Treehouse. More the latter, who didn’t warn me when I told them of the imminent readiness of various crops, that they wouldn’t be wanting them after all the risk and work had been undertaken by me!

I felt a similar sense of being slumped in a bus-stop like a half witted ‘hobo’ when the teaching didn’t work out. Again, I am wondering why I’m here with no ticket to ride!

But really, need I get work satisfaction (and I admit, parental approval) from work that pays? If the world doesn’t value what I do that possibly indicates that I’m working against the world’s values and therefore, for God’s?

I have been taught that I am a rebel, perverse and I know I am idealistic. This makes working for employers really painful for me!

Can anyone hear me out there?

The thing is I am only a rebel against what is wrong, and perverse about co-operating with ways of doing things that enforce abuses of power: Keeping the status quo for the sake of those who don’t want to have their motives or comfort zones challenged.

Being holistic in the way I think, this will be hard for me, but I need to compartmentalise my life and thinking. Work…for money only, nothing to do with my vision or ideals!

Then I can live and I’m going to try playing!

I have lots of things I love doing. I like to paint and write, sewing and gardening are also useful hobbies. When I get the rare chance, I like to cook new things. Though with cooking and sewing and making flowers-a-growing I am beginning to sound like a Bob Dylan song, worse, a woman trying in vain to please someone who never will be pleased…I am good at understanding others’ pain…for Heaven’s sake! And that is veering off playing in the sense of enjoying childhood, which is where I think I’ll head.

By the way, Owen, or any of my many readers who are colleagues, I warn you now: Just because the business has unravelled it doesn’t give you free reign to unravel me too; an inevitable consequence of making me do ‘sleep ins’!

Law and Ordure

February 13, 2010

After telling the Welsh Assembly Offices in Carmarthen 3 times that I had, if fact, shown the department my Certificate of Compliance with the Organic Farming Scheme through 2008 in March 2009 I had the payment due for that year this month.

Imagine if we paid our taxes that slowly!

The payment covers the cost of one year’s certification with about £30 over. Presumably that is to pay for the journeys, photocopies and phone calls required to fulfill all their demands. 

Imagine if  I considered these admin costs at therate the banks charge!

Yep; I am amused and jaded by the rusty wheels of the steamroller system as I get flattened by the process, the beaurocracy, the indefference to the very values the scheme is trying to support.

Nope; it will not be worth staying in the scheme.

If organic certification were to influence the fashion industry in its PR, centre page the Sunday mags would be spread with pictures of three stitches, maybe a cross section of a piece of cloth. We’d be able to tell then that the whole garment was desirable to wear, no?

Farming and food in Britain at least is in such a mess. I’m joining the food growing masses, who have a bash in their back gardens. Policy is ill conceived, scarcely administered, designed to damage small scale farmers and smallholders, ignores the issues that most environmentally aware peole can address and cannot hope to control the incidious large scale destruction of the land and biosphere that short-term economics has, for decades, rewarded the proffiteering mega farmers or driven smaller ones to desperate measures such as selling out to the supermarkets.

The cheapness and poorness of quality of foods that are churned out are a disgrace to our culture. Someone explain to me why people resent paying for environmentally responsible agriculture but will happily waste themselves on a Friday night spending maybe £50 on drinks they will later spew out all over the pavement or some poor shop owner’s doorway.  And there are not a few poor isolated individuals who have to have surgery to stop themselves exploding with obesity by having a stomach ‘staple’ or’ balloon’. Most people have absolutely no idea where and how food is grown. Quite a few have no idea of nutrition and less about food preparation. Britain is a nation of greedy supermarkets and big fat mugginses. Perhaps the root of it is low self esteem and not feeling accountable to each other.

There are hopeful signs though. It will be a while yet before we see the results but gardening to grow food and support wildlife is being added to the primary school curriculum. I have heard nothing of it but wouldn’t be surprised if there’s now an NVQ for the ‘Not Very Qualified’ streamers in secondary school and colleges in this nationally ignored subject. Lets hope that it will empower the powerless of the future and, (this is a fantastical notion) pull the rug out from under the feet of the supermarkets.

OK so why is Judith the ‘floaty gardener’, with floral blouse flapping in the summery breeze ranting so bitterly all of a sudden about the British relationship with food?

I should try to analyse this! I still love the sunny-floaty, tough-gritty spectrum of all weather working the land with no more technical assistance than an ordinary garden fork. But 1st I realise how it has alienated me. The cost of the time input alone has done that: No time for a social life at all, especially when being a member of an evangelical church effectively dictates how I spend any time commited to other people, such as the drunks late at night we try to help to demonstrate God’s unconditional love for them. I do it for that reason alone. I am no better than a drunk, but I’m a lot better inspite of myself, because I’ve got Jesus pleading for me, his righteousness standing in the place of my grubby sin. So I am not totally cut off, there are also all the other duties I have, or debts of love or whatever you may like to call them, which give me time with others. I just don’t get to hang out and chill with friends and family much. I miss that.

The experience with the official and legal side of Organic Certification has disillusioned me greatly. That is another reason for my rant.

Lack of commitment of customers for whom I may have spent months working to be able to keep my side of the bargain of supplying them just suddenly saying they don’t want produce any more; that hurt. It cost a fair amout too. It hasn’t affected my friendships with them because I know they have no idea of how much work I’d done for them. Why would growing for them be any more arduous than picking the lovely stuff off the shelves at Lidl? They have a persuasive point there. If I shut my conscience’s eyes to the food industry, the unofficial slave labour, the destruction of small businesses, the exploitation of land and animals, the long, poorly paid hours, (I have experienced long loss making hours so I’m hardly causing more hurt than I have endured there,) I could be very tempted to chuck in the tools, buy a telly and fill my non-wage earning hours consuming, satisfying my Jill Average wants. But then, when I think of an existance like that, it all seems so shallow and pointless. So I don’t chuck it in.

And that Galatians verse came to mind, and then came to me from my daughter on facebook in the same few days: Gal 6;9 We must not become tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time if we do not give up.” Of course there’s a principle I’m applying here. I don’t expect to harvest eternal life from my field, but maybe by demonstrating respect and truth in my attitude towards creation, I demonstrate Christ, who certainly does give eternal life.


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