Monday, October 29, 2007

women of great faith

last night, during our fellowship gathering, we had special guests with us. a friend of communality's brought two women who are currently touring the u.s. sharing about their incredible ministries. one woman is from thailand. she helps care for and educate children of prostitutes and literally saves children from falling into that horrific trade. a story of her ministry - garden of hope - was featured as a cover article for this christianity today article earlier this year. the other woman is from burma. she and a team of other women live on the border of burma and thailand and they save women who have been traded across the border as sex slaves. they risk their lives every day for the sake of these forsaken women and sometimes they actually "buy back" their lives - the very work of the cross. the stories they shared were devastating and glorious - the testimonies of god's redemptive work in the darkest places. while listening to them, we were moved and blessed and unfortunately, deeply ashamed because this sex trade is funded predominantly by westerners.

as we started our worship together, i read psalm 84. in this psalm are these verses:

"even the sparrow has found a home

and the swallow a nest for herself,

where she may have her young -

a place near your alter, O lord almighty."

even the birds...

garden of hope

christianity today article

Sunday, October 28, 2007

apple season


we had a wonderful day on saturday that included a visit to our favorite orchard - reed valley orchard.  here are some images.



what really make us happy

i wish everyone had the time to read bill mckibben's new book, "deep economy."  geoff read it about a month ago and insisted that i read it next.  now i understand why.  in the beginning, it's quite depressing because it has to be as it describes what is about our current situation - economically and environmentally.  but then things begin to look up and it is a book full of hope about our capacity to live within limits, locally with a healthy and balanced economy and rhythm of life.  here's an reflection on revealing measures of happiness:

" In general, researchers report that money consistently buys happiness right up to about $10,000 per capita income, and after that point the correlation disappears.  That's a useful number to keep in the back of your head - it's like the freezing point of water, one of those random numbers that just happens to define a crucial phenomenon on our planet.  'As poor countries like India, Mexico, the Philippines, Brazil, and South Korea have experienced economic growth, there is some evidence that their average happiness has risen,' Richard Layard reports.  But past the $10,000 point, there's a complete scattering: when the Irish were making a third as much as Americans they were reporting higher levels of satisfaction, as were the Swedes, the Danes, the Dutch....A sampling of Forbes  magazine's 'richest American' has happiness scores identical with those of the Pennsylvania Amish.

On the list of important mistakes we've made as a species, this one seems pretty high up.  A single-minded focus on increasing wealth has driven the planet's ecological systems to the brink of failure, without making us happier.  How did we screw up?"

Thursday, October 25, 2007

devastating weather

yesterday, as i stopped in the office of the neighborhood elementary school where i help out in a classroom, i had a brief chat to the chief organizer of volunteers.  he is a gentle african american man in his sixties that, in his retirement, gives over most of his free time to serve this underprivileged school. 

since we've had days of rain, we could both acknowledge a collective sigh of relief around the place.  but we went on to talk about the water crisis in atlanta where my parents live and the drought that has devastated the area.  then he told me his wife has two sisters - one is just outside new orleans and as of yesterday they had 4 feet of water floating around them while her other sister evacuated her home near san diego due to fire.  come on. 

we agreed that the content of this week's weather could have easily been featured 20 years ago in a science fiction novel about the destruction of the environment as we know it.  now i don't believe in the rubbish end-0f-times theology coming out of a series of poorly written books in the u.s., but i do think it must be unavoidable this week to sit back and deny that things aren't going so well and we are largely responsible.  going back to the first chapters of genesis, before god offered a plan and a people to save the world, god gave humanity its first mission - multiply, fill the earth and care for creation (the right understanding of dominion as stewardship over something that isn't ours in the first place).  from the beginning, this was entrusted to us.  i shudder to think of the mess we're in now and i struggle to find hope during a week like this one.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


a leunig poem we shared at the end of an evening with our friends clinton and lisa:


little scraps of peace and quiet

hope, conversation, handshakes -

all in dribs and drabs

a few crumbs of fun,

a tiny flake of beauty,

one teaspoon of enthusiasm -

offcuts of each other.

a skerrick of coummunity,

a bit of a kiss.

a snippet of eye contact,

a snippet of hospitality

a snippet of patience,

a shred of honour,

a wisp of good humour,

a sample of compassion -

leftovers, oddments,

remnants of the glorious situation.

a fragment of god,

not much, really.

sorry, time's up.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

a great weekend

our community had a wonderful weekend of working together to host over 20 out-of-town guests for a gathering called 'school for conversion' (follow this link for more info).

we studied together, worked and ate together, prayed and paused together. it was a challenge and a joy for us to talk about communality - our life in communal mission - and learn more about our history. it's a surprise just how inspiring and healing it is to recount our past in public - warts and all! billy (our friend and fellow founder, pictured here on the left) wrote beautifully of this suprise over at the ashram.

as far as our feeling of 'being home' is concerned, this was a perfect book-end to our transition back into normal kentucky life. we are home!

Friday, October 19, 2007

bajram and family

we had the most wonderful bajram celebration with our bosnian friends last weekend.  bajram is the celebration to mark the end of ramadan.  For eastern european muslims it means LOTS of pita (a delicious filo pie), baclava, and turkish-style coffee.

here we are at aida and dino's house  - from left to right...sean, sherry, dino, aida, dino's parents, patrick, and isaac, tarik and lydia in the front row.


rid yourself of junk mail

our dear friend Lydia passed this useful link on to us.

it's a way to stop that terrible (and sometimes compelling) junk mail while also planting trees...all for just $15

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

...and here are the retreat pics

you can click on one of the images below or go directly to our flickr account here.  for all you aussies and poms reading...notice the menu below!  deep fried pb&j is a peanut-butter and jam sandwich baptized like a battered sav or a piece of haddock.  and don't miss out on the pork skins, another deep fried treat offered at the mountain heritage festival.




Monday, October 1, 2007

a mountain retreat

last weekend, a portion of communality traveled to the southeastern edge of kentucky for our annual retreat.  we were in eolia, kentucky with a group called "ecco."  organized by ryan, it wasn't like our past retreats.  for this one we worked.  we spent time with two couples who are working with small, local initiatives (with the mennonite central committee) to support life in this rural, almost-forgotten place of poverty.  as a team, we assisted them in extending a deck on the community center (in which we slept) where the locals can access a thrift shop, a food bank and other forms of assistance.  they do it in the name of christ. 

the area is beautiful and scarred by coal mining and unjust practices.  it is rich in history and tradition and we witnessed this as guests of a fall mountain festival on saturday evening.  this area is fully dependent on coal mining for its economic viability.  they water is barely potable.  i felt really convicted when i couldn't bring myself to drink the rank, sulfur-smelling water that came from the taps.  the creeks are polluted and some of the stunning hilltops bald.  this isn't the developing world; it's our home state.

it was a delightful time.  we relaxed together.  we accomplished something with visible results (a rare treat for us slogging along in the slow, long work of mission here).  we experienced the outwardly-oriented love of god in the saints living and working there.  our eyes were opened to a beautiful, hurting place in our own land.  it was a real blessing and i was thankful that our children joined us for it.  stay tuned for photos from geoff.