ISSUE No. 8 | April 2021
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 BURSTING FORTH. In a month which celebrates Easter we are reminded of the words of the song In Christ Alone:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
“Bursting forth” is a powerful image and metaphor. What a truly glorious day Easter celebrates! What a hopeful promise -- that amidst the world’s chaos and conflict, amidst our losses and longings, amidst our questioning and questing, the power and hope Christ demonstrated and promised replaces any fatalistic doubt we may have about the future. We are invited to look beyond momentary challenges and obstacles and to experience each sunrise as encouragement to burst forth into a God-gifted and God-created glorious new day.
We see instances of bursting forth throughout nature as the bleak winter erupts into the promises and colors of spring, buds blossoming into leaf, flowers blooming, creatures emerging from hibernation. Creation is declaring the end of winter and the emergence of spring. Good triumphs. Healing and hope and redemption are real. Through Christ’s resurrection, our reality is both coming and already here.
In this issue you will find two artists whose sculptures create a visual bursting forth. You’re invited to read a poem about growing apples and an essay about the sound of resurrection. We highlight several films including a feature film that celebrates a 10-year-old Ugandan Chess champion and her emergence from poverty. Our book of the month celebrates the true story of how brilliance can burst forth from brutality. And our Profile of the month spotlights the extraordinary life and influence of Henrietta Mears, who not only modeled bursting forth but inspired it in countless others.
God invites each of us to take steps to burst forth in our interior and exterior lives. God invites us to crack whatever shell we have become encased in. To confront our historic confinements and limitations. To take new steps. To emerge from bud to blossom. To experience the hope of a glorious new day and chapter in our lives. Henrietta Mears was known for saying: It is difficult to steer a parked car, so get moving! We encourage you to listen to God’s Spirit as it invites you and encourages you to burst forth! (DG)
Then I, God, will burst all confinements and lead them out into the open.
They'll follow their King. I will be out in front leading them.
(Micah 2:13 MSG)
I'm about to burst with song; I can't keep quiet about you.
God, my God, I can't thank you enough.
(Psalm 30:12 MSG)
Here is the sort of fast I want - releasing those unjustly bound, untying the thongs of the yoke, letting the oppressed go free, breaking every yoke, sharing your food with the hungry, taking the homeless poor into your house, clothing the naked when you see them, fulfilling your duty to your kinsmen! Then your light will burst forth like the morning, your new skin will quickly grow over your wound; your righteousness will precede you, and ADONAI's glory will follow you.
(Isaiah 58:6-8, CJB)
A handful of quotes to contemplate and cultivate into your life
The shell must break before the bird can fly. (Alfred Tennyson)
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. (Anais Nin)
Learn the discipline of being surprised not by suffering but by joy. As we grow old, there is suffering ahead of us, immense suffering, a suffering that will continue to tempt us to think that we have chosen the wrong road. But don't be surprised by pain. Be surprised by joy, be surprised by the little flower that shows its beauty in the midst of a barren desert, and be surprised by the immense healing power that keeps bursting forth like springs of fresh water from the depth of our pain. (Henri Nouwen)
I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom. (Clarissa Pinkola Estes)
Spring unlocks the flowers to paint the laughing soil. (Bishop Reginald Heber)
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. (Albert Schweitzer)
If Spring came but once a century instead of once a year or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake and not in silence, what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change. (Henry Wordsworth Longfellow)
Take the very hardest thing in your life – the place of difficulty, outward or inward, and expect God to triumph gloriously in that very spot. Just there He can bring your soul into blossom. (Lilias Trotter)
Sculpture is a parable in three dimensions, a symbol of a spiritual experience, and a means of conveying truth by concentrating its essence into visible form.… It must be the reflection of the artist who creates it and of the era in which he lives, not an echo or a memory of other days and other ways. (Malvina Hoffman)
This month we feature the sculpture of two gifted contemporary artists:
Anthony Howe and John Edmark.
is an American kinetic sculptor who creates wind-driven sculptures. He makes use of computer-aided design, shaping the metal components with a plasma cutter, and completing his work by use of traditional metalworking techniques. Howe notably designed a cauldron and accompanying kinetic sculpture for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
is an American artist and art lecturer at Stanford University. He seeks to highlight nature’s ever-evolving mathematical beauty with his mind-blowing, 3D-printed sculptures, which come to life when spun under a strobe light.
Sculpture is the art of the intelligence.
Nancy Miller Gomez
There is big excitement in C block today.
On the window sill,
in a plastic ice cream cup
a little plant is growing.
This is all the men want to talk about:
how an apple seed germinated
in a crack of damp concrete;
how they tore open tea bags
to collect the leaves, leached them
in water, then laid the sprout onto the bed
made of Lipton. How this finger of spring
dug one delicate root down
into the dark fannings and now
two small sleeves of green
are pushing out from the emerging tip.
The men are tipsy with this miracle.
Each morning, one by one,
they go to the window and check
the progress of the struggling plant.
All through the day they return
to stand over the seedling
By Billy Brummel
In the years following the first World War, the Great Depression, and the Second World War, Evangelical Christianity emerged as a potent cultural force in the United States. Often, credit for its rise was attributed to a young southern evangelist named Billy Graham and the revivals he held throughout the country; or possibly to Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ that was responsible for a surge in faith on college campuses. But behind both of these men stood Henrietta Mears, a Sunday School teacher from Hollywood Presbyterian Church who played a prominent role in the ascendance of evangelicalism in the second half of the 20th century.
Mears began teaching Sunday School at the First Baptist Church in Minneapolis as a volunteer while serving as a high school chemistry teacher, but soon her immense gift for teaching the Gospel in a theologically sound and culturally engaged manner became apparent--a women’s group she led grew to an attendance of 3,000 after 10 years under her leadership. Word of her skill spread, and she was offered the title of Director of Christian Education at the First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, CA--a town that was on the verge of its own ascent. Henrietta burst forth in this new position through her use of contemporary pedagogical and psychological theory; the Sunday School grew from an attendance of 450 to 6000 people over a five-year period.
Having heard of her success in Hollywood, requests for her teaching materials and methods came pouring in from throughout the country, so Mears, with a core staff, formed Gospel Light Press and brought her approach to Christian education to a wide audience. Sales took off and she soon became a renowned curriculum writer due to the way her material connected with students and brought Christian principles home in relatable ways.
In order to help facilitate periods of retreat for her students, she oversaw the purchase of a San Bernardino (CA) mountain resort that had been ravaged by the Great Depression. It was here that she would burst into the world of Christian camping. Starting in 1938, Forest Home Christian Conference Center would host thousands of students each year and lead them to make commitments towards lives of Christian service. Most prominently, in 1949 she recruited a young Billy Graham to speak at a College Briefing conference, praying with him daily as he dealt with doubts surrounding the inerrancy of scripture. After a powerful encounter with God amongst the trees in the San Bernardino Mountains, Graham was convinced that God’s word could be trusted on faith and proceeded to host his now-famous Los Angeles Crusades where he spoke to 350,000 people over the course of 8 weeks.
Ms. Mears was a winsome and effective teacher without ever standing behind a pulpit, in a world where men behind pulpits were held up as the most valuable communicators of the faith. She re-imagined how the faith was conveyed to millions of people through her publishing company, and she inspired several generations of leaders in the evangelical church by establishing Forest Home. And as she burst forth in all these ways, she was surrounded by students whom she was actively mentoring and helping to discern ways in which they could burst forth with their own giftedness. As one of the motivational quotes she liked to share said, “God has so planned: that what we plant in a human soul may bloom perennially.”
If you would like to learn more about Henrietta Mears, we recommend the following:
1. Richard J. Leyda’s online biography of Mears:
2. Arlin C. Migliazzo’s new (2020) biography, the first comprehensive biography of Mears’ life, entitled Mother of Modern Evangelicalism: The Life and Legacy of Henrietta Mears published by Eerdmans.
Each month we recommend films focused on our theme
Queen of Katwe
Queen of Katwe is a movie based on a vibrant true story starring Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo, directed by Mira Nair. In this celebration of the human spirit, a Ugandan girl’s life changes forever when she discovers she has an amazing talent for chess.
Living in the slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle for 10-year-old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) and her family. Her world changes one day when she meets Robert Katende (David Oyelowo), a missionary who teaches children how to play chess. Phiona becomes fascinated with the game and soon becomes a top player under Katende's guidance. Her success in local competitions and tournaments opens the door to a bright future and a golden chance to escape from a life of poverty. Rated PG. Available on various streaming services.
(Pixar; 9 minutes)
In this story of a grandmother and her grandson trapped in a deep, dark and desperate cavern, writer/director Edwin Chang encourages and enlightens viewers as they follow the two characters in their efforts to escape and experience freedom, illustrating sacrifice, hope, and empowering love.
Film Producers Edwin and Jesus Martinez share that “If everyone reaches far enough in their history, there’s one person that propelled the family forward and gave up a lot of their own opportunities. I hope people remember that person, because that gives you introspection about what you’re doing for the next generation.”
Live-Action Short Film
Flowers Bloom Before Your Eyes
(National Geographic; 3 Minutes)
Witness dozens of different types of flowers unfurling in this stunning time-lapse video from filmmaker David de los Santos Gil. He used 5,000 out of 50,000 shots of his floral subjects for the final video, which was filmed over a period of nine months.
Birds, a Parking Lot, and the Sound of Resurrection
By Chris Davidson
I drove to my work on Thursday after the Boulder shooting, which was less than a week after the Atlanta shooting, which was a little over two months after a riot at the U.S. capitol, which came after one of the worst election seasons I’ve lived through, following a summer of protest and violence and climate-change-exacerbated wildfire--the season itself coming in the midst of a lockdown caused by an ongoing pandemic that has claimed the lives of nearly 600,000 Americans and nearly 3 million people worldwide. Like many, I was feeling burned out, frazzled, sad, and lonely—as was my family, as were my friends—tired of working and taking classes online, of being unable to see the people I love in person, of being kept from gathering together as a church, being required to give a wide berth to pedestrians on the sidewalk, always having to wear a mask in public, and needing to turn the car around and head back home whenever I remember I’ve forgotten my mask.
It was in this context, in a frame of mind I may have been only semi-conscious of at the moment, that—as I exited the car I just parked in front of the building where the office I have used so little lately is—I was stopped short by a sound. Sounds. The sounds of birds, actually, more birds than I’ve heard all at once in I couldn’t tell you how long. They were pulling together over my head, under the blue sky, a tapestry of chatter and call; I stood beneath in a state of surprise that quickly turned to delight. I pulled out my phone, pressed record, and held it up in the air. I didn’t want to lose what I was being reminded of, that it is a miracle to be alive.
On the day Jesus is crucified, right after he breathes his last, we read in Matthew that “the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.” I do not pretend to understand everything about that strikingly odd passage, but it seems as if the love Jesus had, and has, for this world and the creatures in it—for each part of the created order he is reconciling to himself—was, in the midst of that darkness that came when that same love was rejected, unable to be contained despite our best efforts to contain it. It burst out to raise others from the dead, foreshadowing what would come to the Man Himself two days hence, reminding us how strange and blessed it is to be alive in the first place—that life is a miracle, that we are each deeply loved, and that these two facts comprise a single idea. The birds, like a choir, testify to it.
Chris Davidson lives in Long Beach, CA with his family and teaches rhetoric and creative writing at Biola University.
Each month we recommend a book focused on our theme.
Book of the Month
The Boys in the Boat:
Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
by Daniel James Brown
The Boys in the Boat is a captivating read on how brilliance can burst forth from brutality. Set in the idyllic Northwest amidst the dismal era of the Great Depression, The Boys in the Boat is the true story that chronicles the coming of age account of nine young working class men who find purpose and possibility at the University of Washington through the classically aristocratic sport of rowing. The emotional heart of the story focuses on Joe Rantz, a teen forced to make it on his own. Daniel Brown masterfully weaves a deeply layered story by which Rantz, his compatriots, West Coast crew and academia, even blue-collar America, find themselves at varying crossroads between the clutching past and an elusive, yet hopeful, future together. (JM)
With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler. Drawing on the boys’ own journals and vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Brown has created an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest.
Practical suggestions to help you go deeper into our theme
1. QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
Devote some time and thought to these reflective questions on our theme:
a) Identify a time when an event or idea burst forth into your life. What did you learn
from the experience? What impact did it have on your life?
b) What is exciting about a bursting forth?
c) What is frightening about a bursting forth?
d) When did you engage in an act of bursting forth? What feelings did this generate in you?
e) How open are you to God bursting forth into your life in new ways?
2. A BURST OF COLOR, SIGHT, AND SOUND
We hope you’re moved by these three videos that capture individuals experiencing
for the first time:
A burst of COLOR (6 minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CN7hxFEqdpA
A burst of SIGHT (4 minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EltIpB4EtYU
A burst of SOUND (10 minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8lUWc1sx_E
3. A BURST OF EASTER CREATIVITY
We have previously featured the creative work of Nick Benoit in a previous issue of CULTIVARE. We are happy to share another one of his creative projects, this one from his 2011 Easter Service at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, CA. (8 minutes)
4. WHEN CHRIST BURSTS FORTH
Our God is a God that loves to burst forth. Linda Burlew Gold reflects on Noah and his family and all the animals bursting forth from the Ark as an illustration of God’s ongoing call to us to burst forth into the world.
5. HAWAII’S EPIC LAVA LEAK
In this article from The Atlantic, journalist Melody Schreiber explores the possibilities that a volcano bursting with destructive 2,000-degree lava torrent might actually be a good thing and encourage marine biodiversity.
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:
All photos used public domain
1. FIELD: Photo: Asa Ellison, Sunrise on Haleakala National Park, HI
2. SEEDS: Photo: wetwebwork
3. ART: Photo: Steve Elgersma/Flickr
4. POETRY: Photo: Vladimir Wrangel/Shutterstock
6. FILM: Photo: Dreamland Media
7. ESSAY: Photo: Wikipedia
8. BOOKS: Photo: Alex Berger/Flickr
9. DIG DEEPER: Photo: Duane Grobman
10. ROOTED: Photo: Ireena Nieuwenhuis-Worthy/Flickr
TEAM CULTIVARE: Duane Grobman (Editor), Lori Andrews, Beth Bolsinger, Billy Brummel, Ben Hunter, Eugene Kim, Rita McIntosh, Jason Miller, Jason Pearson (Design: Pearpod.com)