ISSUE No. 27 | November 2022
If you’re new to CULTIVARE we welcome you! CULTIVARE is a monthly field guide for life and faith, brought to you by TEND. Each month we explore a specific “field” – a topic or theme through which we seek to cultivate contemplation, engagement, and deeper understanding. Our guiding questions are:
What are you cultivating in your life?
What fruit do you want your life to bear?
Each issue of CULTIVARE is structured into three parts:
Cultivate: Examines a specific “Field” or facet of life and offers questions to unearth and challenge our held perspective; along with concise kernels of truth which we call “Seeds.”
Irrigate: Explores the ways we nurture our understanding, which varies from individual to individual. We offer six means of irrigation: Art, Poetry, Profile, Film, Essay, and Books.
Germinate: Encourages practical ways to engage in becoming more fruitful and free in our lives.
Our name, CULTIVARE, in Spanish means “I will cultivate.” We hope each issue of our field guide will encourage you to do just that – cultivate new thoughts, actions, faith, hope, and fruitful living. We invite you to dig in and DIG DEEP!
For we are partners working together for God, and you are God's field.
(I Corinthians 3:9)
Our theme this month is STEWARDSHIP. Depending on your personal experience in churches that topic may be met with hesitancy and apprehension or with anticipation and contemplation. In this season of Thanksgiving, our hope is that the resources in this issue lead you into reflective musing on what it means to steward well all that God has given you.
Meriam Webster’s dictionary defines stewardship as the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care. This leads us to question--what has God entrusted to your care? We encourage you to spend some time thinking about this… What has God entrusted to your care? What comes to your mind?
We think pastor John W. Yates II has an insightful and helpful response to the question. Yates observes that: God has given us life, time, truth, relationships, natural abilities, spiritual gifts, money, possessions. These are all gifts. We are grateful managers of them, stewards for God’s purposes.
In this issue you will encounter the founder of a successful business who, upon retirement age, made the decision to give his business to a non-profit to support Creation Care rather than sell his business for more money in his personal bank account. We feature an essay on the forms of stewardship that God calls us to in the book of Genesis. We present a documentary film about the extraordinary life of a Macedonian beekeeper and the model she is for stewardship. We spotlight a book on the life of Harvard physician Paul Farmer who died this year but whose influence and impact on global health care lives on. And we offer a poem by Mother Teresa who encourages us to steward the struggles and challenges we face in life by exercising grace and tenacity.
Author Randy Alcorn asserts: What you do with your resources in this life is your autobiography. Which leads us to the question: What stewardship story do you want your life to give witness to? The act of stewarding is not an act of rule following. Stewarding often involves risk, trust, and persistent faith. We invite you to contemplate the ways you are stewarding your life and then to attentively listen to the Holy Spirit for ways to do so more freely and faithfully. (DG)
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and master it. Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, and everything crawling on the ground.” Then God said, “I now give to you all the plants on the earth that yield seeds and all the trees whose fruit produces its seeds within it. These will be your food. To all wildlife, to all the birds in the sky, and to everything crawling on the ground—to everything that breathes—I give all the green grasses for food.” And that’s what happened. God saw everything he had made:
it was supremely good. (Genesis 1:28-31 CEB)
Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself?
What could you ever trade your soul for? (Matthew 16:25-26 MSG)
From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required,
and from the one to whom much has been entrusted,
even more will be demanded. (Luke 12:48 NRSV)
This is the way any person is to regard us: as servants of Christ
and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover,
it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. (I Corinthians 4: 1-2 NASB)
A handful of quotes to contemplate and cultivate into your life
We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give. (Winston Churchill)
The world asks, "What does a man own?" Christ asks, "How does he use it?" (Andrew Murray)
A steward manages assets for the owner's benefit. The steward carries no sense of entitlement to the assets he manages. It's his job to find out what the owner wants done with his assets, then carry out his will. (Randy Alcorn)
I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. (C.S.Lewis)
In the loss of skill, we lose stewardship; in losing stewardship we lose fellowship; we become outcasts from the great neighborhood of Creation. (Wendell Berry)
Leaders are chosen stewards. (Germany Kent)
Theologians talk about a prevenient grace that precedes grace itself and allows us to accept it. I think there must also be a prevenient courage that allows us to be brave - that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm. And therefore, this courage allows us, as the old men said, to make ourselves useful. It allows us to be generous, which is another way of saying exactly the same thing. (Marilynne Robinson)
The earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.
(Pope John Paul II)
Artists of the Month
Bernd and Hilla Becher
The Stewardship of Memory
By Heather Shackelford
We are delighted to spotlight German artists Bernd and Hilla Becher as our Artists of the Month. Known for their minimalist approach, the married couple used photography to catalogue a changing and dying industrial landscape. Though photography was the medium the Bechers created their art, their work, at times, has been described as “anonymous sculptures.” Their work is a testament to the stewardship of memory, history, and architecture.
In the decades after the World War II the Bechers travelled extensively and took pictures all over post-war Europe, carrying around a wide-format camera. They lived as travelers for months at a time, photographing buildings that represented a phase of industrialization that was quickly becoming obsolete. Silos, kilns, barns, gas tanks, water towers, warehouses, blast furnaces, coke burners—they turned these structures into sculptures in their photo compositions. Often, they multiplied the images from different perspectives as part of their composition, reminiscent of the vast multiplication of similar buildings across the industrial landscape that had been so impactful on the economy and environment.
Many of those buildings were rapidly being replaced or torn down as the nature of industry evolved. As Bernd recounts, while witnessing the change in Germany’s landscape, "I was overcome in horror when I noticed that the world in which I was besotted with was disappearing.” Bernd and Hilla were “preservationists of memory,” archivists of images from an era that was quickly receding from view. Their work lent support to conservationists interested in preserving unique industrial architecture of a past age, making some sites protected landmarks. To learn more about the Bechers explore their biography on the Tate Museum’s website.
Styrofoam production plant
Do It Anyway
by Mother Teresa
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.
Founder of Patagonia
By Bonnie Fearer
In 2017, Forbes magazine lionized founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, as a billionaire and one of America’s richest men. His reaction to the article? He was “really, really pissed off.” What made him angry, however, galvanized a decision that garnered the attention of the corporate world.
The conundrum that is Yvon Chouinard begins here. Climber, surfer, falconer, fly fisherman, alpinist -–turned environmentalist/businessman/activist, Chouinard had humble beginnings; he was just trying to provide better rock-climbing gear for climbers -- at first selling it out of the back of his car. Ultimately, he discovered there was a market for better outdoor clothing in addition to equipment, and Patagonia was born. His love for the outdoors, however, always held more influence in how he ran the corporation than simply the bottom dollar. More than an outdoorsman, more than a businessman, Yvon Chouinard has been, above all, an environmentalist, and it is reflected in every aspect of Patagonia. From the use of recycled materials for their clothing, to a self-imposed “earth tax” of 1% on all sold goods going to environmental causes, Yvon Chouinard – and Patagonia – walk their talk.
Their environmental stewardship is internal as well. Chouinard says, “We’re also committed to cleaning up our own act and have already begun to make the changes necessary so that by 2025 we will eliminate, capture or otherwise offset all of the carbon emissions we create. This includes not just our offices and stores, but all the emissions from the factories that make our textiles and finished clothing, and farms that grow our natural fibers. Eventually, we want to remove more carbon from the air than we put out.”
This stewardship of the environment has been the passion of Yvon Chouinard, and the lifeblood of Patagonia. And so, instead of being “really, really pissed off” about the focus on what he and Patagonia were worth in dollars, Chouinard decided to give his company away to a non-profit devoted to fighting climate change. In a world devoted to profit, the decision made headlines everywhere.
It also embodies Chouinard’s own words: “How you climb a mountain is more important than getting to the top.” To learn more about the various organizations Patagonia supports and contributes to explore their website’s grantees.
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard at Foster Park in Ventura, CA, March 2014.
Photo by Peter Bohler/Redux)
Each month we recommend films focused on our theme
The Great Debaters
Denzel Washington directs and stars in this true story of young black college students stewarding their intelligence, courage, tenacity, and perseverance to beat the obstacles of ignorance, racism, elitism, and discouragement to achieve a national championship in debating. Washington portrays poet and professor Melvin B. Tolson who teaches at the predominately black Wiley College in 1935 Texas. He decides to start a debate team, something nearly unheard of at a black college. While he initially butts heads with the influential father (Forest Whitaker) of one of his best debaters, eventually he is able to form a team of strong-minded, intelligent young students, and they become the first black debate team to challenge Harvard's prestigious debate champions. Available on various streaming services.
We chose Honeyland for our documentary film as it represents multiple aspects of stewardship. If you haven’t seen it yet, this beautifully shot documentary film focuses on a Macedonian beekeeper. The movie was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature Film and Best International Feature Film in 2020. The film chronicles the daily life of Hatidze Muratova as she attempts to sustain the well-being of herself and her blind mother through selling honey. Both environmental and relational stewardship themes emerge as Hatzide finds her family needs put at risk by neighbors also struggling to survive. The film is directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov. Stevanov summarizes the film’s main theme as simply, “The point is take as much as you need, not to take everything.” Honeyland can be viewed on Hulu, Apple TV, or rented on a variety of streaming services.
A Facebook Message That Sparked Hope
How do you steward a suspicious scam? Steve Hartman of CBS Sunday Morning visited Africa to investigate the story of how a suspicious Facebook message actually led to a friendship, and a publishing business that is investing in an impoverished community in Liberia.
Healthier Men, One Moustache at a Time
We chose this TedTalk from the founder of the Movember movement as representative of Stewardship in Action. Travis Garone is an Australian man who one day, over some pints of beer, lamented the loss of the moustache in men’s fashion. He and some friends decided they would take a month and grow them. But they did not stop there, they decided to use the growing of the moustache as a vehicle to raise money, increase awareness of, and fight Prostate cancer. What started as 30 friends in 2004 has grown to involve over 6 million individuals and funded over 1250 men’s health projects. One part of stewardship is using what you have to affect others for good. We would suggest it is fair to say that if you can use facial hair for the common good, you can use pretty much anything.
Creativity is Stewardship
By Grace Olmstead
In this thoughtful essay by Grace Olmstead in the Anselm Society, she explores the patterns of cultivation and creation in the book of Genesis-- forms of stewardship to which God calls us – observing that: “it is important to note that things are not just ordered—they are ordered in relation to each other. God creates ecosystems: webworks of life that illustrate His own relational nature as a triune God. We as humans are not called to autonomy and isolation, but to live within relationships. Things on earth ‘live and move and have their being’ in Christ—and, in mirroring the Trinity, in and through interdependence. Everything is ordered in love and relationality. Creation’s biological arrangement thus conveys the heart of the Gospel, the Trinitarian love at the center of all things. This love connects us to our fellow humans (we are our brothers’ keepers), and it connects us to the nonhuman life around us.” We encourage you to read the entire essay at the link below.
Each month we recommend a book (or two) focused on our theme
Mountains Beyond Mountains
By Tracy Kidder
Our book recommendation this month is Mountains Beyond Mountains in which Pulitzer Prize winning author Tracy Kidder illuminates the life and perspective of Dr. Paul Farmer through a non-fiction narrative. Farmer is a physician and anthropologist who co-founded Partners in Health as a response to what he perceived as well intentioned yet inept and even damaging Western policies towards health issues in Majority World countries. Many of us are familiar with the book When Helping Hurts (if you have not read it yet we highly encourage it). In some ways think of Mountains Beyond Mountains as a profile of living out the thoughtful principles addressed by When Helping Hurts, long before it was ever written.
From the book’s summary it explains: Mountains Beyond Mountains takes us from Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia as Farmer changes minds and practices through his dedication to the philosophy that "the only real nation is humanity" - a philosophy that is embodied in the small public charity he founded, Partners In Health. He enlists the help of the Gates Foundation, the U.N.'s World Health Organization, and others in his quest to cure the world. At the heart of this book is the example of a life based on hope, and on an understanding of the truth of the Haitian proverb "Beyond mountains there are mountains": as you solve one problem, another problem presents itself, and so you go on and try to solve that one too.
Milly Molly Mandy Spends a Penny
by Joyce Lankester Brisley
This month we highlight a chapter from a book by Joyce Lankester Brisley who wrote and illustrated a set of six children’s books that follow a little girl named Milly-Molly-Mandy who wears a pink and white striped dress. The books were published between the years 1928 and 1967. The books are long-time favorites of many readers and have been translated into nine languages. The chapter we chose spotlights the wonders and blessings of stewarding a penny
with insights and encouragement for children and adults alike.
Practical suggestions to help you go deeper into our theme
1. QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
a. What is your emotional reaction when you hear the word "Stewardship"?
b. How were you trained to think about Stewardship growing up?
c. Was Stewardship more about giving generously or collecting and protecting assets?
d. What area do you feel you have stewarded well in the past?
(Finances, Relationships, Spiritual Life, Vocation, Time, Environment, etc.)?
e. What is one area you want to increase your capacity of being a good steward?
(Finances, Relationships, Spiritual Life, Vocation, Time, Environment, etc.)?
2. FAITH AND MONEY NETWORK
The Faith and Money Network has been around for over 40 years. For many years they operated under the name of the Ministry of Money. Their purpose is to equip people to build honest, just, community-centered relationships with money. Explore their website to learn more.
3. WISE STEWARDS – First Things
In this thoughtful book review by Adam Omelianchuk, he highlights many insights on parenting found in Michael Austin’s book Wise Stewards.
4. SONG: GIFTS FROM GOD – Chris Tomlin with Chris Lane
Recognizing that all that we are and all that we have are gifts from God is a good starting point for stewarding our lives.
Good and gracious God,
I thank you for the beauty of the earth and all creation.
Help me to hear always the calling to be a good steward of your gifts,
the caretaker of all you have entrusted to us on earth.
Let me always recognize, cherish and enjoy the goodness in all of creation.
Teach me reverence for every person and all living things.
O God, help me to use your gifts wisely and share them generously.
Whisper in my heart the reminder that I am but a temporary guardian of your abundance;
I am called to pass your gifts on to the next generation.
Let all I do be a reflection of your love and care.
Prayer by Therese Fink Meyerhoff
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.
(Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV)
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Images used in order of appearance:
1. FIELD: Marie Laubser, Field Laborers, 1958, private collection.
2. SEEDS: Pablo Picasso, Le Ronde de la Jeunesse (The Youth Circle), 1961.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
4. POETRY: Photo by Jason Miller, Carnegie is a State of Mind, 2018.
5. PROFILE: Photo courtesy of Pantagonia as found in Men’s Health Magazine
October 25, 2018.
6. FILM: Nelson Stevens, Yes We Will, 1972. Museum of Modern Art, New York City, New York
7. ESSAY: Marc Chagall, Bible II-Creation, 1960, Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.
8. BOOKS: Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, Panel 3: From every Southern town
migrants left by the hundreds to travel north, 1940-1941, The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC.
9. DIG DEEPER: Norman Lewis, title unknown but referred to as March on Washington, 1965, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York.
10. ROOTED: Jennie Augusta Brownscombe, The First Thanksgiving, 1914, Museum De Lakenhal, The Netherlands.
TEAM CULTIVARE: Duane Grobman (Editor), Lori Andrews, Elizabeth Bolsinger, Billy Brummel, Amy Drennan, Bonnie Fearer, Ben Hunter, Eugene Kim, Nick Kinnier, Andrew Massey, Rita McIntosh, Jason Miller, Heather Shackelford, Jason Pearson (Design: Pearpod.com)