Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog


Food and Farm!
November 9, 2014, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Eating Mindfully and Sustainable Agriculture, Inspiration | Tags: ,

Wow. When I sat down after the church service with a bowl of soup and chatted with a couple of young women, I hadn’t expected they would say that they had a hard day of work on the farm all day Saturday, slaughtering turkeys. But indeed they had. Then I learned more about their calling to plant good food and cultivate a thriving community (and ecosystem). (I stole that wording from their card and the blog.) Check them out. Pastor Cranky enjoyed the pumpkin and squash postings and he can’t wait to learn more.
Happy November!
http://tenderheartfarms.blogspot.com/

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Thanksgiving 2008: Saying Grace — a short sermon

All-Ages Service, November 23, 2008

Family Minister            UU Society of Sacramento, CA

Saying Grace

One summer day I was back in my Indiana home town, having lunch with a group of my late mother’s cousins.  As we sat down to the table, one asked me “Roger, would you return thanks?”  He meant: would I say grace. The remarkable thing about this is that I had not been in the habit of saying grace, or hearing it, while growing up in my churchgoing Protestant family in that small town in the Midwest.  I didn’t get into the practice of saying grace until I was in my late 20s, after I had become a Unitarian Universalist.

This is what I prayed before lunch:  “Dear God, we give you thanks for the gift of life and the gift of this new day, for the blessing of reunion and joyful memories, for this food, and for the hands that have prepared it.  We call to mind those who are no longer with us but who live in our hearts.  May this food nourish us so that we can be more kind, generous, and loving. Amen.”

Learning grace as a UU has taught me the wide-open possibilities for saying thanks, whether or not we believe in God or mention the divine at all.  At a ministers’ support group in the late ‘90s, a colleague gave the blessing for a meal.  She included thanks for the farm workers, the truckers, and those who prepared and served our food.  Thus did I learn that grace is not just a nice ritual, but an opportunity for ethical reflection.

As children, many of us grow up learning the value of saying thank you for a favor, a gift, a helping hand, or a compliment from another person.  Why not acknowledge other sources of help and goodness?  In addition to thanking people, how about thanking the great cosmic mystery from which all abundance emerges?  Some say God, others bring to mind the web of inter-connected beings and elements, and the energy that holds it all together and welcomes us as a part of the whole.  The practice of giving thanks can take many forms.

It’s my impression that more families have mealtime rituals nowadays than when I was growing up, whether they’re in a more conservative religious tradition, in a UU church, or none at all.  One family in this church is making a collection of songs to sing and words to say aloud for their mealtime ritual.  Here’s their current favorite:

Earth who gives to us this food,

Sun who makes it ripe and good,

Dear Sun above and Earth below,

Our loving thanks to you we show.

Blessings on our meal, our friends, our family and on us, and may peace be on Earth.

Blessed be.

In an earlier church of mine I dined with a family whose blessing included remembering those who are hungry or homeless, both people and dogs and cats.  Such a ritual can be a magical time, a sacred moment. I know middle-aged couples with no children, and those with none at home anymore, who sit down at the table, join hands, close their eyes, and breathe in silence for a few moments.

I know a couple in retirement.  Every evening they make a light supper, close a heavy curtain over the doorway into their dining area and light a votive candle.  Then one of them reads from the book A Grateful Heart, a collection of poems and prayers for mealtime. But even if we are eating alone, we can take a moment for gratitude.  My Buddhist meditation teachers have suggested that we pause and look at the food on the plate, noticing its colors and textures and smells, and then eat with a bit more attention and pacing.  Of course, this solo practice is easier for me to do when the news is not on the radio, I’m not reading a magazine, and the laptop computer is not open on the table. In other words, I rarely do it.

Here’s mealtime grace used by another family in this congregation:

We are grateful for all our gifts

We are safe, calm, and patient

We trust in the process of life

Peace and harmony fill us and surround us

All is well

Amen

I want to tell you about my stealth grace.  When I am out with friends for a meal, and the food is served I might say, “Well, I am grateful to be alive, to have a place to live and a job I love, to have this food, and to be here with you.” Once a friend responded [with a skeptical tone] “Okaaay…”  Another said, “Yes!  Me too.” One friend responds, amen!  Another one likes to recount what he is grateful for.  Sometimes when I’m dining with others, I simply ask, “Are we not blessed?  To have this food and be safe and be here together…. Are we not blessed?”  Who but a crank is going to say no!

Many people know the value of making what’s called a gratitude list.  No matter how burdened we may feel, no matter how unfair life can be, this practice can shift our perspective and help us recognize the blessings we do have.  Over time, perhaps, the attitude of gratitude, and the practice of giving thanks, can lift our spirits.

Recently a colleague sent an email summarizing a children’s book she recommended.  The secret, the message of the book, she said is this:  You don’t become grateful by being happy.  You become happy by being grateful.

There are so many gifts in life, which we perhaps can recognize if we take some time.  Let us show our thanks in ways that are true and right for us.  May we remember to look for reasons both great and small for giving thanks, and may doing so increase our happiness.  Perhaps this is what it means to say, Happy Thanksgiving.  So may it be.



Sustainable agriculture and the fight against it

This article is interesting: What’s So Scary about Michael Pollan?

Also, our weekly alternative paper is starting a series about local farms and sustainable city life. Apparently this area has more than many other regions.

The Downtown/Midtown weekday seasonal farmers’ market (including the one I visit on Tuesday mornings) ended this week with a whimper, perhaps because it had been so windy the night before and keeping their canopies up was a challenge. But I got some good stuff, including corn, from the last few. One man gave me lots of extra pears and said, “See you in the spring.” The year-round markets are a few miles away, in shopping center parking lots. There is a very large market under the freeway not far from Midtown, but it’s on Sunday mornings. I’ll try to shop quickly some day before church.



Saying Grace (All-Ages Homily, Sunday Before Thanksgiving)

All-Ages Service, November 23, 2008

Family Minister           UU Society of Sacramento, CA

Saying Grace

One summer day I was back in my Indiana home town, having lunch with a group of my late mother’s cousins.  As we sat down to the table, one asked me “Roger, would you return thanks?”  He meant: would I say grace. The remarkable thing about this is that I had not been in the habit of saying grace, or hearing it, while growing up in my churchgoing Protestant family in that small town in the Midwest.  I didn’t get into the practice of saying grace until I was in my late 20s, after I had become a Unitarian Universalist.

This is what I prayed before lunch:  “Dear God, we give you thanks for the gift of life and the gift of this new day, for the blessing of reunion and joyful memories, for this food, and for the hands that have prepared it.  We call to mind those who are no longer with us but who live in our hearts.  May this food nourish us so that we can be more kind, generous, and loving. Amen.”

Learning grace as a UU has taught me the wide-open possibilities for saying thanks, whether or not we believe in God or mention the divine at all.  At a ministers’ support group in the late ‘90s, a colleague gave the blessing for a meal.  She included thanks for the farm workers, the truckers, and those who prepared and served our food.  Thus did I learn that grace is not just a nice ritual, but an opportunity for ethical reflection.

As children, many of us grow up learning the value of saying thank you for a favor, a gift, a helping hand, or a compliment from another person.  Why not acknowledge other sources of help and goodness?  In addition to thanking people, how about thanking the great cosmic mystery from which all abundance emerges?  Some say God, others bring to mind the web of inter-connected beings and elements, and the energy that holds it all together and welcomes us as a part of the whole.  The practice of giving thanks can take many forms.

            It’s my impression that more families have mealtime rituals nowadays than when I was growing up, whether they’re in a more conservative religious tradition, in a UU church, or none at all.  One family in this church is making a collection of songs to sing and words to say aloud for their mealtime ritual.  Here’s their current favorite:

Earth who gives to us this food,

Sun who makes it ripe and good,

Dear Sun above and Earth below,

Our loving thanks to you we show.

Blessings on our meal, our friends, our family and on us, and may peace be on Earth.

Blessed be.

In an earlier church of mine I dined with a family whose blessing included remembering those who are hungry or homeless, both people and dogs and cats.  Such a ritual can be a magical time, a sacred moment. I know middle-aged couples with no children, and those with none at home anymore, who sit down at the table, join hands, close their eyes, and breathe in silence for a few moments.

I know a couple in retirement.  Every evening they make a light supper, close a heavy curtain over the doorway into their dining area and light a votive candle.  Then one of them reads from the book A Grateful Heart, a collection of poems and prayers for mealtime. But even if we are eating alone, we can take a moment for gratitude.  My Buddhist meditation teachers have suggested that we pause and look at the food on the plate, noticing its colors and textures and smells, and then eat with a bit more attention and pacing.  Of course, this solo practice is easier for me to do when the news is not on the radio, I’m not reading a magazine, and the laptop computer is not open on the table. In other words, I rarely do it.

Here’s mealtime grace used by another family in this congregation:

We are grateful for all our gifts

We are safe, calm, and patient

We trust in the process of life

Peace and harmony fill us and surround us

All is well

Amen

            I want to tell you about my stealth grace.  When I am out with friends for a meal, and the food is served I might say, “Well, I am grateful to be alive, to have a place to live and a job I love, to have this food, and to be here with you.” Once a friend responded [with a skeptical tone] “Okaaay…”  Another said, “Yes!  Me too.” One friend responds, amen!  Another one likes to recount what he is grateful for.  Sometimes when I’m dining with others, I simply ask, “Are we not blessed?  To have this food and be safe and be here together…. Are we not blessed?”  Who but a crank is going to say no!

Many people know the value of making what’s called a gratitude list.  No matter how burdened we may feel, no matter how unfair life can be, this practice can shift our perspective and help us recognize the blessings we do have.  Over time, perhaps, the attitude of gratitude, and the practice of giving thanks, can lift our spirits.

Recently a colleague sent an email summarizing a children’s book she recommended.  The secret, the message of the book, she said is this:  You don’t become grateful by being happy.  You become happy by being grateful.

There are so many gifts in life, which we perhaps can recognize if we take some time.  Let us show our thanks in ways that are true and right for us.  May we remember to look for reasons both great and small for giving thanks, and may doing so increase our happiness.  Perhaps this is what it means to say, Happy Thanksgiving.  So may it be.



Family-Friendly Restaurant Dinner Oct. 15
September 23, 2008, 5:06 pm
Filed under: Family Ministry | Tags: , , ,

Join UUSS members and friends of all ages for an easy night out in a family-friendly setting: dinner together at Fresh Choice Restaurant.  Wednesday, Oct. 15, 5:30-7:30 PM.  Come when you can, dine, mingle and visit.  Come for dinner before Choir practice or your Ministry Circle or before a bath and bedtime story back at home.
(The UU Fellowship in Sunnyvale has done this every month since 2004, and it has been a good time for people to connect and share a meal together.)
The company returns 15% of our group’s total purchase as a donation to UUSS, so pick up an event flyer at church or download from www.freshchoice.com/fundraising.html.  Fresh Choice is a self-serve restaurant with a wealth of tasty salads, fresh veggies and fruit, pasta, pizza, potatoes, soups, breads and desserts, including the fun soft-serve ice cream machine (so fun that some ministers go twice).  Prices make it a good value, and for those who seek seafood or poultry, that’s optional.  They have wine and beer too.  It’s at 535 Howe Ave. near Fair Oaks, just a 13 minute walk from the church.  Phone is 916-649-8046. Our section will marked with Unitarian Universalist table markers.  —buen apetito from the Family Minister