Skip to main content

A Different Kind of Mission

There's a certain contrast between the work I spoke of in my last post, on Eden and Jim Grace and their Quaker outreach in Kenya, and the work of the writer I'd like to draw attention to today.

Andras Corban Arthen is well known among Pagans, especially in the Northeast, for his leadership in the EarthSpirit Community. Perhaps he is somewhat less known for his interfaith work with the Parliament of World Religions.

Andras has published a really moving account of his participation in the World Interreligious Encounter (Encuentro Mundial Interreligioso)in Monterrey, Mexico, this past September. His descriptions of his interactions with representatives of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, and of his own reactions and his reception as a representative of "one of the indigenous European pagan traditions" were especially meaningful for me.

On one level, the work of the Grace's, as "missionaries" (a loaded word they purposely explored in a workshop we attended this past summer) and Andras' work to raise awareness of the importance of preserving indigenous religious practices, are in some tension. But on another, deeper level, both embody the qualities of respect, reciprocity, and humility that I think are the hallmarks of those who are really walking their religious talk. This seems to have been a theme of the work of the Parliament of World Religions, in fact, and maybe it's a hopeful note in a time of violence and fear.

When we really listen to one another, we find so much to love.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Confronting Racism, Yankee Pagan Style

I am a Yankee.  Right down to my Pagan soul.

My understanding of what it means to be a Pagan is to try to live in right relationship with the gods, the land, and the people, including the ancestors.  My gods are those that are comfortable in New England’s woods and hills.  My land is this rocky landscape of New England.  And my people and my ancestors–on Mom’s side, at least–are New Englanders: sea captains and dairy farmers, teachers and laborers.  Whatever granite is in this place or in my ancestors lives on in me and in my Pagan practice.


And that granite is why I am so driven to speak out against racism.
To help me explain what I mean, I’m going to go ahead and borrow an ancestor: my friend Kirk White‘s father.
A Yankee like a Rock Kirk’s ancestors, like mine, were among the first Englishmen to arrive in North America.  Like mine, this landscape was where they found their home.  And like me, my friend Kirk and his family before him has loved New England–Vermont in his c…

Bears Eat My Lettuce

I love where I live;  since moving to our new home four years ago, I've been able to build a relationship with a piece of land for the first time since I was a child.  It's everything a dirt-worshipping Pagan could ask for.  I have a garden, and I grow much of my own food, and that is as much a spiritual delight as a taste treat.  And I have woods again as neighbors: glacial boulders, white pines and black birches, owls and white-tailed deer.

And bears.

And the bears eat my lettuce.



I'm not kidding about that.  Oh, it's winter now, and the bears are huddled up in their dens.  But this past spring, I grew lettuce.  Award winning, gorgeous lettuce: three different kinds!  They were nourished to extraordinary size and succulence by the cool, wet weather we had, and each night, I would gather just a few outer leaves, knowing that careful tending would mean tasty salads for months.

And then, over the course of three days, the bears ate every single one of my lettuce plants…

The Saturday Farm

I love Saturdays.

I have come to think of the work that I do on Saturdays as "farming."  Now, I know it isn't farming--not really.  We have a medium-sized vegetable garden and two dogs, and that's not a farm, by any stretch of the imagination. 

But I keep thinking of a comment Joel Salatin made in Yes Magazine once, about how Americans have become used to thinking of our homes as centers of consumption, but how once, thinking of your home as a center of production (typically, a farm, for most of us for most of our history) was the norm.

And between trying to live with less plastic junk and trying to eat more sustainably and locally, Saturdays at home have become very productive days.  And that productivity--the willingness to substitute patience, skill, and thrift for consumption--I've come to think of as a species of farming.  (My apologies to actual farmers, whose work I increasingly appreciate.  But thinking in this way works for me, somehow.)

First thing this…