Posted by: kathymcneely | June 6, 2012

Food & Faith ~ Imagine

by Sister Joan Brown, OSF,  a Sister of St. Francis (Rochester) who lives in the Sacred Earth Community in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She speaks, writes and gives retreats on the spirituality of ecology. She is an advocate with New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light and with the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.

 “To preserve our places and to be at home in them,

it is necessary to fill them with imagination…

Not to fill them with junk of fantasy and unconsciousness,

for that is no more than the industrial economy would do,

but to see them first clearly with the eyes,

and then to see them with the imagination in their sanctity,

as belonging to the Creation.”

Wendell Berry, Standing by Words

Many years ago I worked at a soup kitchen in Colorado Springs. Each day was sacred preparing and serving food, mostly vegetables gleaned from parishioner’s gardens, produce stands and grocery shelves. The inspiration for each bowl of soup was imagination infused with respect for food and person. The work with food blessed that place as home each day.

Today, as then, we are called to deepen the responses of our faith communities toward producing and sharing food, thus giving another layer of meaning to “give us this day our daily bread.” A world threatened with climate change, many hungry people, and youth starved for spiritual meaning invites us in a variety of ways to reimagine our place, our faith and our food in community.

Imagine the faith community where…

“A farmer went out to sow seed”…and the community supports the farmer. Produce is celebrated and purchased as an extension of Sunday Mass at a parish market or Community Supported Agriculture pick-up.

Imagine the faith community where…

“Give us this day our daily bread” is celebrated and honored at Earth Day services in April or on the feast of St. Isidore the Farmer on May 15 (patrons of farmers and farmworkers) or by revitalizing Rogation Days.

Imagine a faith community where…

”The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in the field….and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.” Seeds planted by parishioners produce abundantly and the ‘extra’ food is gleaned and shared at a soup kitchen or food pantry.

Imagine a faith community where…

“Let the little children come to me” translates into children working with adults in a parish or school garden growing relationships, sharing Catholic creation care teachings and growing food and meaning.

Imagine a faith community where…

Jesus feeds the five thousand. “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” Community and family gardens feed neighbors and money saved is given to plant trees addressing deforestation in Africa or Asia.

Imagine a faith community where…

”The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.” It takes one person to begin a Sacred Food movement in a parish. Who is this person who can take the yeast of their imagination and find three others people to leaven an entire community?

To preserve our places and to be at home in them, it is necessary to fill them with imagination and the sacred. Imagination is a gift to inspire living a holy life at the banquet table as producers, eaters and community in our particular place.

__________________________________________

Resources for inspiration, education and action:

Cool Harvest, a program of Interfaith Power and Light, offers resources and prayers (free downloads) to help faith communities educate about food and production.

Sustainable Food Practices for Faith-Based Institutions

(GreenFaith’s “Repairing Eden” Guide)

Novena in Honor of St. Isidore the Farmer

(Devotions during the seasons: Spring, Summer & Fall)

Know other resources? Please send to bob@ncrlc.com

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