Saturday, February 29, 2020

Finding God among the produce by Mark Olson

I have always enjoyed food and cooking.  Twelve years ago my relationship to both changed when I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.  I spent many months journaling about and examining my relationship to food. I tracked what I ate, when I ate, how much I ate and, most importantly, why I ate.  I read books and articles. I talked to doctors and dieticians.  Slowly, I began to see food with new eyes.

I adopted a very basic guiding principle that 70-80% of what I ate needed to cut up by me. I had my knives sharpened. I started spending time carefully picking out fresh produce, washing it and chopping it.  This small act has become a cornerstone of my spiritual life. 

Chopping garlic, onions, peppers, and mushrooms and peeling grapefruit, avocados and oranges has become a meditation practice.  I spend time with my cutting boards and my knives preparing wholesome food to nourish body and soul. 

I grew up saying grace before dinner.  Now, I give thanks to all the hands that help provide the food I cut up.  I give thanks for the fresh produce.  I give thanks for the opportunity to prepare food that will nourish the body and soul of all those who partake of it.  I give thanks and enjoy my time cutting and chopping.  The rhythm of chopping produce has a meditative-spiritual affect when done with intention and attention.  This is what the Buddhist call “joyful effort”.  Every pear cut, every cucumber peeled, every tomato sliced becomes an opportunity to give thanks. It can be an opportunity to live in the moment and connect with the life-giving bounty of God’s creation.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Blessings of Community - Tiona Reunion by Carol Ann Reiff

Terry and I had a bucket list dream of attending the Tiona reunion in Australia.  This year it became a reality.  December 12 we landed in Sydney, cruised the east coast, snorkeled on the Gold Coast, saw a performance at the Sydney Opera house, hand fed kangaroos and pet a Koala.  All of that was amazing but none of that compared with the beauty and warm hospitality of the Tiona reunion.
When I told one of the Saints at the reunion how lovely the people were to us he laughed, “Of course, we are at reunion!”  I stopped counting the number of times someone told me, “My grandparents came to Tiona every year and my parents didn’t miss a reunion and I wanted my children to be able to have this Tiona experience too.”  Tiona has Lake Wallis on one side and the Ocean on the other.  The beaches on each are treasures.  The long lake beach is only one half to a foot deep for over a hundred meters – lovely for the children to play freely.  The ocean beach carnival is a favorite each year.  I began to wonder if people worshiped Tiona instead of God!  By the week’s end I saw it was both.
Creative fun, lots of laughter, rich fellowship, reverent worship, many good classes taught by gifted mid lifers and the sacraments of baptism, communion and laying on of hands. Our favorite time of each day was sitting together in the outdoor “Green Cathedral” next to the lake, worshiping as we watched the sunset.  It was magnificent and unique each evening.
It was hard to leave Tiona and those lovely, hospitable people.  Like all of our reunions, the Love of God bound us together in a rich peace beyond our understanding.