You may be wondering how these two words go together. Sweat and Respite are not things that you would typically think of as going together. But for me they are. There is something about doing some good hard work, getting dirty and tired, that while sometimes physically exhausting is at the same time fulfilling. Now this could all be because I am a farm kid and working hard brings me a piece of home and memories around the farm with my dad. But I think that it goes to something deeper.
There is lots of research that has shown how exercise releases certain endorphins that can help relieve stress. Exercise can also help raise serotonin levels bosting overall well-being and your helping sleep cycles. There are many benefits to mental and not just physical health through exercise.
This summer I had the opportunity to volunteer up at Luther Heights multiple times, helping with all sorts of projects, from replacing rotten bench supports to oiling Sawtooth Lodge. But one thing that I was grateful for each time was the ability to work hard in (distanced) community. Most volunteers came up to camp with the dual purpose of doing some projects to help camp while also getting some respite time in the mountains away from the hustle and bustle of the chaos of life right now. This balance of work and respite looks different for all of us, and for me right now work projects are a source of respite. A chance to just do and not have to think so much. A change away from what my day to day life consists of these days. But also a connection to my past and a core piece of who I am. I am sure part of why it gives me a sense of respite now is that I don’t get to do too much physical labor these days. When I think back to the summer my dad brother and I pulled milkweed out of a hay field, hard work wasn’t respite for me then. But now it is something that can bring me that respite because it is not part of my daily life.
This is why the balance of work and respite, they style of self-care, looks different for all of us. We are all in different places in our journey and along that journey there are different things and activities that fill us. You may be reading this and thinking how can working hard and sweating be respite? I just want to sit and read a book or I just want to do my yoga practice. And that’s just it. Working hard won’t necessarily always be something that brings a sense of respite and but in this pace and time it is. Something may only be life giving to us for a time, and that is okay. The important thing is to recognize what things are life giving to us right now. What things can we do today, or this week that will help fill our cup, so that when we are called upon we have something to give to others.
What things or activities are life giving to you? When was the last time you did something to help fill your cup? Think about these things and see if you can start to work into your schedule a few of the things that help bring you respite. It is important to know what is filling and what is draining for you.
I pray that you can take time to do something to help bring you some peace and respite today.
Help stock the NEW Little Free Pantry at SOV with non-perishable food on Sunday, September 13th between 11:00 – 1:00pm. Come see the Little Free Pantry and bring a donation of food or other supplies listed below. Just drive up to the main entrance (south end) between 11:00 – 1:00pm drop off donations. Tables will be provided where you place your donations and social distancing practiced. Please share this event with your neighbors.
Suggested Pantry items: Peanut butter, Cans of soup, fruit, vegetables, stew, fish, beans, granola bars, dry pasta, Mac & Cheese, Crackers, Cereal or rice. Please no glass containers. Any non-perishable item you enjoy buying and share with the pantry. Please bring food that hasn’t reached its “sell-by” date. Toilet paper and female hygiene products are also appreciated.
Questions contact Vivian Parrish 208 362-9579 or Sara Manning 208-362-1112
Whitney and Dave give their best tips for parenting children at each stage between birth and 10 years old. They're clinging to you as the center of their universe. How can you give them back something that will not only affirm that bond, but help them grow beyond it?
God brings life out of chaos. This was the theme of my senior thesis paper in college, looking at it through the lens of Ezekiel 37 (the valley of dry bones). It is also a phrase/theme I have heard brought up quite a few times recently as we are living through a time rife with chaos. The chaos of a once a century level global pandemic. The chaos of having new and different responsibilities we did not necessarily ask for (many people now being parent and teacher and worker all from their homes). The chaos of historic fires, hurricanes, and droughts. The chaos of continued violence toward our siblings of color who have been treated like theirs lives do not matter for far too long.
God brings life out of chaos. This theme shows up time after time throughout scripture. From creation, to the flood, to the exodus, and even through the resurrection. Over and over again scripture tells us how God brings life and order out of chaos and death. From the formless void of the waters of creation God brings forth life. Out of the nothingness God brings forth land and sky, and creatures of every kind in water, air, and land. From the dirt of the earth God forms and breathes life into beings created in Gods own image, creating adam from the adamah. Through the chaos of the flood God brings a covenant to Noah through the promise of a rainbow in the sky God promises to never flood the earth like that again. Through the Exodus God brings the Israelites from slavery into freedom. Bringing them hope when they felt that all hope was lost. Through Ezekiel and his vision of dry bones God reminds those in Exile that even then God will bring life out of the death and isolation they are experiencing. Through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus God brings all of humanity into the new life of Christ. Over and over again God reminds us of God’s promises to bring life and to bring hope out of the places of death and brokenness.
Right now things may feel like the chaos is overflowing all around us. We may feel like we are in the valley of bones, disconnected and alone. We may feel like the waters are rising all around us, and we are struggling to stay above the waves. We may feel like we are being surrounded by persecutors and critics examining every choice and decision we are making. And even yet, I bet that if we sit down and think through all that has gone on over the past 6 months we could each come up with at least one moment or one story where we saw God show up. One place where God was taking the brokenness and death around us and bringing new life.
I do not want to negate the real struggles that many have faced through these trying and unprecedented times, but at the same time I am clinging tightly to God’s promise of bringing hope and life even when everything around us feels like death and destruction. I cling to the promise of the Holy Spirit being with us and guiding us through it all. In the stories of God bringing life from chaos the Spirit is there. The Spirit is there hovering over the watery chaos of the creation. The Sprit is there in the breath of God that breathes life into creation. The Spirit is there in the wind blowing back the water to create a path for the Israelites to escape. The Spirit is there in the wind that Ezekiel calls to bring life to the dry bones. The Spirit is there with the disciples as they live into their call to share God’s message with all peoples. And the Spirit is here with us as we live through the challenges of today and work toward a better tomorrow.
Some people in our church orbit asked we say Black Lives Matter instead of ALL lives matter. Pastor Dave and some of the young folks from our church put on a skit and talk about scripture to show why, then we hear from SoV Member Jordyn Robinson about what the phrase means to her.
Pastor Dave and Trisha Braun answer the question of why there is an old and new version of the Lord's Prayer?
A topic that I have been thinking about recently is Land Acknowledgement, also known as Territory acknowledgement in some places. If you are not familiar with the term, land acknowledgements are an honest and historically accurate way to recognize the traditional First Nations and Indigenous people of a place. They can be a sign, a statement, or a short presentation. The formats vary but the goal is to commemorate Indigenous peoples’ kinship to the land, and that they have not and cannot be erased from our collective mother earth. Land acknowledgements are a starting place to change how we see and talk about land and place. They are a standard practice in Australia and Canada, and a growing practice here in the United States.
Last summer I attend the conference of DIAKONIA of the Americas and Caribbean (DOTAC) that was held in Vancouver, B.C. The conference theme was “Respecting Covenant – Risking the Journey toward Reconciliation” and was looked at through the themes of Indigeneity, Eco-Justice, and Global Migration. We were people gathered from Canada, the United States, Brazil, and Caribbean, and included guests from Australia. From how the conference began with acknowledgement of the land we were gathered on, to some of the discussions and the blanket exercise we did, I was moved by what I was experiencing. One of the biggest things I noticed throughout the conference was the way people (mostly from Canada) introduced themselves. When noting where they were from they also noted which Treaty area it was or the First Nations people of the land. This struck me as I realized I knew some of that information about the land where I grew up in New York (the land of the Haudenosaunee and Mohawk peoples) and of where I live currently in Boise (the land of the Shoshone-Bannock peoples), but I had never thought about including that information when naming where I am from, naming my place. I left that conference feeling inspired and wanting to learn and do more about this in the United States, where we are a bit behind our Canadian neighbors in actually acknowledging our past, and present, atrocities toward Indigenous peoples. I am sad to say that as I returned and got back into my routine of life this never really went any further.
However, I was recently re-inspired by two people I know from Canada and Australia through Land Acknowledgement statements that are included in each of their email signatures. These email signature Land Acknowledgement statements have given me a tangible first step for myself in this process of naming and recognizing those Indigenous people whose home land I live on. I am still working on it as I want to be intentional as I write and acknowledge, but I now have a first step in this journey. As I was talking with a friend about this process of writing a land acknowledgement statement I also mentioned my thoughts about awareness and in that moment I made the connection between land acknowledgement and our awareness issues in the US. Last week I wrote about how I feel that our awareness issues are related to how our culture uplifts individualism and through that we are becoming disconnected from each other. I think this disconnection goes even further to a disconnection from place and history. By uplifting individualism, we have not only disconnected ourselves from each other as human beings, we have disconnected ourselves from our history as we tell only what make us as an individual/country look best, and we have disconnected ourselves from knowing where we live as a place and not just a location. From really knowing the land and its story.
This can be a hard and divisive thing to talk about, to claim and name our history and teach both sides of stories and to acknowledge that to create this country we displaced the Indigenous people who were living here. This is a process that takes time, to learn and hear stories, to learn about where you live as a place and connect to the history of that land. But it is a process that is important on the journey of growing our awareness and reconnecting to each other and seeing we are part of a bigger whole. The journey away from individualism and back toward God’s shalom.
This reflection is mostly meant to help start some conversations around Land Acknowledgement and our awareness or lack thereof around Indigenous peoples and their connection to the places we live. I have plenty to learn myself.
If you want to learn more about Land Acknowledgement you can check out these resources:
Over the past few months Shepherd of the Valley has been trying to reach out to and support those in our neighborhood. As the pandemic took hold, one way this outreach took shape was through putting out free snack bags for anyone to take, no strings attached. We have been collecting different breakfast and snack items that we put together into bags and set out for those who need them to pick up. Through the ideas of a few different people we created a ministry to help those in need right around us. Some take a whole bag, some take only what they need/like, and some bring a donation and take a bag. Sometimes it is children riding their bike to be out for an adventure, or grandparents getting something for their grandkids, and I am sure everything in between. Since the start of this ministry in April we have distributed over 500 snack bags.
From the beginning of the pandemic we had many people from our congregation making cloth face masks to be distributed to those from church who may have needed them, as well as to Interfaith Sanctuary, Corpus Christi, Community Council of Idaho for Idaho Farm Workers, and we even sent some to our mission partner Christo Rey Lutheran Church in El Paso. Then when Boise City, and then Ada county had mask mandates in July we wanted to make the masks more available to more people so some of our Masketeers put together a box to be outside near the snack bags with masks in individual baggies for people to take if they needed. The mask box is restocked on Mondays and Thursdays and includes adult and some child sized masks. The Masketeers have made over 840 masks!
Over the past week or so, as many vegetables have been ripening in peoples gardens, we have had some fresh vegetables appearing at SOV and we now have a box for free fresh vegetables. If you have a garden and are getting extra produce that you would usually bring to church to share, you still can! There is a box now alongside the snack bag bins for fresh produce.
Earlier this week we had some school/craft supplies donated along with items for the snack bags. As I thought about how to put them outside for people to be able to take I remembered I had some cinch sack bags and other school supplies from our Quilters school supply project last fall that were items that didn’t quite fit with what they send so they had given them to me to use or donate. I put together about 7 little sets of school/craft supplies and set out another little basket next to all the others.
In the past month or so we have had a group of people who have come together to work on a more sustainable way for us to be supporting those in our neighborhood. They have been working on planning and building a Little Free Pantry to be set up at Shepherd of the Valley to be the Neighborhood Pantry. The Little Free Pantry model is based on the moto “Give what you can. Take what you need,” and the principles “We work Together. We challenge assumptions. We practice Radical Trust. We feed Neighbors. We nourish Neighborhoods.” A Little Free Pantry is meant for more than just non-perishables, but also toiletry and hygiene items. You can find out more about the Little Free Pantry movement here: https://www.littlefreepantry.org/.
The Pantry has been built and will be installed this coming Saturday August 29th. If you are really excited about this new project, you can come by Saturday afternoon to stock it with items!
I am excited to see how this new branch of our outreach takes off as we work to transition from the snack bags to the Little Free Pantry, with many of the same items just in a slightly different way. Watch your Monday emails from Shepherd of the Valley for information about what items are needed in a given week and for information about a drive-through donation drop off/Pantry open house in September.
Ep. 85 - How do you tell a good church from a bad one? Dave gives 7 signs you might not be looking for to help you discern the work of the Spirit from giant red flags.
The Geek and Greek podcast is a show where two reverends talk honestly and clearly about faith, Christianity, scripture, and life.
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Lately I have been thinking a lot about our awareness of others and of things happening around us. Part of this reflection has been about our spatial awareness of others when we are on a shared path or in a shared space, like the Boise River Greenbelt or at a grocery store. When I ride my bike I am often thinking or reflecting about something; what else is there to do as you pedal along? I have been riding my bike along the greenbelt quite a bit lately and as I have been riding I have been noticing differing levels of awareness people have for those around them as they pass, yield, or cross the path. I could rant about my frustration at those who do not seem to be spatially aware or even to follow basic courteous right of way rules, but I will try not to do that here.
As I thought about the varying levels of spatial awareness people along the greenbelt seem to have, I began to think about the bigger picture and our varying levels of awareness of the world and things around us. As I thought about it I began to see how this issue of awareness is showing itself all around us right now, from debates about wearing masks to the call to racial awakening happening across our country and around the world.
For me our awareness of others and of their needs ties directly into debates about wearing a mask because wearing a mask is about caring for our neighbor. It is about being aware that we share air with those around us and right now that can be a very dangerous because of a highly contagious virus. It has to do with our spatial awareness as we are out and about and trying to respect distancing while also trying to go about our business as close to usual as possible. Wearing a mask or face covering is not about ourselves, it is about protecting those around us who may be more susceptible to catching the virus. Through the differing ways we have seen people responding to wearing a mask we have seen the array of levels of our awareness of others, similar to the differing levels of spatial awareness I have noticed as I bike along the greenbelt.
I think our culture and society have added to our issues around awareness of others through the ways they uplift individualism. As a nation we have become very individualized and through that we have lost touch with our connection to and awareness of others and their needs. We are often made to focus on ourselves and how we as an individual are either contributing or not contributing to society, and not how what we may do or don’t do affects those around us. We have become disconnected from each other as we have been told to focus on ourselves and our forward motion up the ladder of success or accomplishment. This exhibits itself in different ways, one of which is our varying degrees of awareness of others and the world around us. As a society it feels like we are losing touch with the fact that we are one big community and we need to take care of each other and not just ourselves to survive. By lifting up individualism we are losing sight of the fact that we are part of something bigger, that we are part of a community. Individuality and uniqueness are important, but when they are lifted up as the end all be all, we take away from the strength and importance of community and awareness of others.
I’m not sure that I have a suggestion about any of this beyond trying to pay more attention to our own areas of awareness or lack thereof. I think becoming aware of issues of awareness is the first step in this journey from individualism back toward recognizing that we are a part of a bigger whole.
Where do you see issues of awareness around us in our communities and in our world today?
Next week I will continue this reflection on awareness with a specific focus on Land Acknowledgment.