ISSUE No. 14 | October 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 FEAR. October is a month that marks not only the arrival of autumn and the laying bare of deciduous trees but also the celebration of Halloween, a holiday that for many playfully lays bare one’s anxious and unnerving feelings. The years 2020 and 2021 have laid bare the fears of many, but there has been nothing playful about it. For large numbers of people, the past two years have been deadly serious and have surfaced fears and anxieties that cannot be easily denied or repressed.
The word fear is both a noun and a verb, underscoring that fear is both a very real thing and a very active emotion. New York Times columnist David Brooks has coined the phrase “The Age of Precarity” to describe the times we now live in. Precarious is defined as: “not securely held or in position, dangerously likely to fall or collapse.” This is an apt word to describe the fear many experience today--lack of security, shifting of position, and painful loss.
In this issue, we provide resources to help you engage hope and perspective to help combat fear. Our desire is that no matter your present circumstance or your imagined future, that you hear the oft quoted words of God recorded in scripture: BE NOT AFRAID! May we all be reminded of the presence and power of God to do his redemptive work in our lives and in our world. To frame this issue, we draw from a well-known facet of early Native American life, wonderfully described by author Brennan Manning. He writes:
“The early American Indians had a unique practice in training young braves. On the night of a boy’s thirteenth birthday, after his fortitude and maturity had been tested by various trials in hunting, fishing, and scouting, he was placed in the center of a dense forest to spend the entire night alone. It was equivalent to his bar mitzvah or confirmation in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the sign of his adulthood. In a wood so thick that even the moonlight could not penetrate, he was left to the terrors of the darkness. Every twig that snapped seemed like a wild animal ready to pounce. Through the night he looked anxiously toward the east, awaiting the dawn. After what seemed more like a month than a single night, the first ray of sunlight exposed the interior of the forest. Slowly the young boy began to distinguish the bushes, the flowers, the path. Then to his utter astonishment, he saw his father standing just a few feet away behind a tree, armed with a bow and arrow.
Don’t you suppose the boy thought, “If only I had known my father were there, I wouldn’t have been afraid of anything?" Hundreds of years earlier, Jesus had said to the sinking Peter and to the terrified disciples shipping water on Lake Gennesaret, “Where is your faith? Don’t you know that my heavenly Father stands beside you night and day, armed not with a bow and arrow but with the love and power of his Spirit to ward off any danger?” (DG)
So do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
(2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV)
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9 NLT)
There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life - fear of death, fear of judgment - is one not yet fully formed in love.
(1 John 4:18 MSG)
A handful of quotes to contemplate and cultivate into your life
Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. (Yoda)
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. (Plato)
A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. (Mark Twain)
Do one thing every day that scares you. (Eleanor Roosevelt)
I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized, and I still had a daughter who I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. (J. K. Rowling)
We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear. (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear. (Rosa Parks)
If we live in a state of constant fear, can we remain human? (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn)
This month we highlight the musical arts
by featuring two music videos that give voice to the reality of fear
Fear is a Liar
Sung by Zach Williams
Written by Jason Ingram, Zach Williams, and Jonathan Lindley Smith
Zach Williams states that his song, Fear is a Liar, is a declaration of encouragement and scriptural reality that he wanted to communicate to listeners. "Jonathan Smith, Jason Ingram, and I wrote the song in a few hours and we were really happy with the way it came out, since we put a face to the name (fear) . . . . I wanted something that people would relate to, and find hope in." Williams notes that the scriptures that informed their lyrics included: Isaiah 35:4, John 14:27, Matthew 6:34, Isaiah 43:1, and Psalm 23:4. Here is an excerpt of the lyrics from the song.
When he told you were troubled
You’ll forever be alone
When he told you you should run away
You’ll never find a home
When he told you you were dirty
And you should be ashamed
When he told you you could be the one
That grace could never change
Fear he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
Cause fear he is a liar
FEAR IS A LIAR music video:
God With Us
Sung by Terrian
Written by Terrian and Chuck Butler
Terrian shares: “‘God With Us’ is a declaration of hope and confidence. I typically find myself writing about pain, as I’ve seen a great deal of it in my life. This song shares that we have all we need to get through this life and pain because all we need is found in Christ – He is with us.”
No matter what, what storm may come
Our God is here, our God is here
When fear gives in, when darkness runs
Our God is here, our God is here
GOD WITH US music video:
Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments
of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.
Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound
of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes
pointing again and again down, down into the black depths.
Dan Albergotti, "Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale" from The Boatloads (2016).
Dr. Karyn B. Purvis
By Brooke Miller
This month, as we look at fear, we profile the life of Dr. Karyn B. Purvis, whose work was birthed in a realm often bullied by fear: the world of foster and adopted children – or in Karyn’s words – “children from hard places,” which includes all who have suffered trauma, abuse, neglect, or other adverse conditions early in life. With practical tools and inviting compassion, she equipped caregivers to engage a world where most children “have been afraid so long, they don’t even realize that it’s fear they’re experiencing.”
Every time I had an opportunity to sit under the teaching of Dr. Karyn Purvis, I took it– and each time, I walked away feeling like I’d sat with Jesus. Now before you go and dismiss that as heresy, remember the words of Acts 4:13: “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (NIV)
Karyn was, without a doubt, a woman who had been with Jesus.
As a respected researcher, Dr. Purvis - better known as “Miss Karyn, the queen of bubble gum!” to the children she served – tackled the very neurochemistry of fear, recognizing that even without trauma, many of us respond with fear to so many of life’s experiences, and she offered a gentle echo of God’s voice that we can, indeed, “fear not.”
Miss Karyn proudly wore many titles before she wore that of Doctor. She was a mother, grandmother, foster parent, pastor’s wife, and developmental psychologist. Atlanta-born and Texas-raised, Karyn was the second of four children of Othal and Kay Brand, the world’s largest onion growers. Her parents modeled generosity and tangible, direct engagement in many “hard places”, such as the slums of McAllen, Texas, where they would bring Karyn along as they distributed food and worked to improve living conditions.
Destined to be an academic researcher, Dr. Purvis actually quit college in her sophomore year to move with her new husband to a new town to begin a new ministry for street children. The next three decades of her life were fully devoted to motherhood and serving alongside her husband. When their sons started college, she too resumed her education, embodying the truth that it is never too late to start (or restart).
As she continued forward, what began as a research project toward her doctorate in child development – a summer camp for adopted children – led to reports of dramatic improvement parents saw in their children. That camp became “The Hope Connection”, and after several more years of research and more camps, Karyn added PhD to her title – at the age of 53.
Just a few years later, in 2005, Texas Christian University created the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development to house and to advance the work of Dr. Purvis and her mentor, Dr. David Cross. They teamed up to write their acclaimed book, The Connected Child, and to create Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), a revolutionary science-based approach to bring hope and restoration where it had been long lost. In contrast, many scientists and doctors had previously taught that once lost or broken (or never formed), certain neural pathways of attachment were impossible to recover.
Where fear had once reigned, Dr. Purvis brought hope reinforced by research and data. Where fear once crippled, Dr. Karyn offered tangible tools to stand on. Where fear once dejected, Miss Karyn would (literally and figuratively), lift the chin and speak life into the eyes of both parent and child.
Karyn’s passion and novel, research-proven insight, led to interviews and news coverage in Newsweek, The Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, KERA Radio, Dateline NBC, Focus on the Family, Parents Magazine, Fort Worth Weekly and countless other media outlets, blogs and webinars. The National Council on Adoption honored Dr. Purvis with the title of Distinguished Fellow in Adoption and Child Development. She has received the James Hammerstein Award, the T. Berry Brazelton award for Infant Mental Health Advocacy, a Health Care Hero award from the Dallas Business Journal and numerous other awards and honors for her work on behalf of children.
In the last decade of her life, before cancer took her home to her Maker, she and her team continued to confront the “bully” of fear, offering this poignant synopsis: “Show them, when it is dark, that you’ll help them get a flashlight.”
Miss Karyn served as a flashlight to thousands, shining the hope of Jesus and the encouragement of data into dark, hard places.
To learn more about Dr. Kayrn Brand Purvis and to watch a brief interview of her speaking on children and fear, explore the following link:
Brooke Miller is an Attorney, Writer, & Real Estate Broker whose roots are planted deep in sunny Orange County and whose heart reaches to global borders, particularly in the world of orphan care, which inspired she and her husband Jason (TEND's Associate Director) to found Home4Good, a charitable real estate program that Brooke runs at the discretion of her real boss, their two-year-old daughter.
Each month we recommend films focused on our theme
A Monster Calls
Juan Antonio Bayona's adapts to the silver screen, Patrick Ness' A Monster Calls, which is described by the New York Times as "wise, darkly funny, and brave." In the film, when the Monster first comes to visit, there are terrifying tremors, the earth opens up, embers crackle, and an ancient menacingly gnarled yew awakens and breaks free from its roots. In any other narrative, this is when the world turns apocalyptic and shadows darken the landscape - death, horror and mayhem are staples of this genre. But for Connor, his world has already come undone, his mother slipping away into the shadow of a deathly illness and his school days tortured by unrelenting bullies whose ultimate persecution is to brand him invisible, unseen and unheard. "I am afraid," whimpers thirteen-year-old Connor O'Malley. "Of course you are afraid," replies the Monster (voiced by Liam Neeson), "but you will make it through." In this beautifully vulnerable coming of age tale, Connor tackles, through four tales narrated by the Monster, the fear beneath the fear, realizing that life, death, justice, faith, and healing are complex and not necessarily what we think they are or desire them to be. Rated PG-13. (108 minutes) Available on various streaming services.
Ten Meters Tower
Would you jump from a ten-meter platform? Or would fear stop you? In this documentary short film by Maximilien Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson, their objective in making the film was something of a psychology experiment: “We sought to capture people facing a difficult situation, to make a portrait of humans in doubt. We’ve all seen actors playing doubt in fiction films, but we have few true images of the feeling in documentaries. To make them, we decided to put people in a situation powerful enough not to need any classic narrative framework. A high dive seemed like the perfect scenario.”
How Can We Face the Future Without Fear, Together
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
It's a fateful moment in history. We've seen divisive elections, divided societies and the growth of extremism -- all fueled by anxiety and uncertainty. "Is there something we can do, each of us, to be able to face the future without fear?" asks Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. In this electrifying talk, the spiritual leader and 2016 Templeton Prize winner gives us three specific ways we can move from the politics of "me" to the politics of "all of us, together."
By Elizabeth O’Connor
Gordon Cosby preached a sermon today on fear. He said:
“When I reflect deeply on my life and what I really want, it is not to be afraid. When I am afraid, I am miserable. I play it safe. I restrict myself. I hide the talent of me in the ground. I am not deeply alive – the depths of me are not being expressed. When I am afraid a tiny part of me holds captive most of me which rebels against the tyranny of the minority. When I am afraid, I am a house divided against itself. So more than anything else I want to be delivered from fear, for fear is alien to my own best interest or, to put it positively, I want to give myself generously, magnanimously, freely – out of love. I want to be able to take risks – to express myself, to welcome and embrace the future. I want to see what it is to be most deeply me. I want union with all of life and existence. I want to know and sense a oneness with others – with all humankind. I want to know warmth and closeness, to give acceptance and understanding and support. I want to sacrifice myself freely, for this is when I am most alive, most me. I sense that the art of loving, the art of risk taking, is my thing.”
In True Wilderness, H.A. Williams wrote, “. . . If you want to discover the difference which Jesus made to mankind, and go to the New Testament to find out, the answer given is the casting our of people’s lives of fear. Fear, in the New Testament, is considered to be the root of all evil. It is fear which makes men selfish, it is fear which makes them hate, it is fear which makes them blind, it is fear which makes them mad. Fear casts out love, as love casts our fear. Which of the two therefore am I going to choose?”
I turn to these two statements when I feel afraid. They give me courage and aid in the ordering of my household. We need all the help we can get in battling fear. It is the underlying negative emotion in all and each of us.
My fears keep me from being the self I was intended to be, and from doing the work that is mine to do. Poet Denise Levertov completes the thought:
I know there is so much of me
so much we could have been or done
that we held ourselves back from,
out of fear,
or out of the dream we had but one thing to be or do.
or out of the faith a life is richer lived among paths
Elizabeth O’Connor, “On Fear” from Cry Pain, Cry Hope (1987)
Each month we recommend a book (or two) focused on our theme
Finding Calm in a World of Conflict and Anxiety
We live in a fearful, anxiety-driven age where the problems and challenges of the world, which come to us daily by news feed, far outstrip our abilities to respond. This sense of desperation leads to discord and violence: from bitter, cutting remarks to the atrocities of war; from pervasive racism to knee-jerk micro-aggressions. And it contributes to our current, peace-bankrupt social discourse, leading to patterns of dismissing, dividing from, condemning, or hating people. Conversation partners are no longer wrong or misinformed, they are evil: dehumanized and made objects of ridicule.
But what if the root of these problems is not found out there, in my dumb, evil friend, family member or colleague at work, but in here--in my mind, heart, thought-life, and emotions, in my own desire to win at all costs? Hunter writes: I wrote Deep Peace because there is a desperate need for peace in our world, and Jesus is the ultimate peace-maker. If we want the world to change, peace starts with us.
Tonight: A Book of God’s Bedtime Promises
Emily Assell & Lauren Copple
Claim a peaceful night’s sleep for your child by speaking God’s promises of protection and rest over them. Read these loving affirmations and encouraging Scriptures as you tuck your little one into bed. Charming illustrations of baby animals and their parents bring a calming atmosphere and prepare your child for sleep.
Practical suggestions to help you go deeper into our theme
1. REFLECTION QUESTIONS ON FEAR
Devote some time and thought to these reflective questions on our theme:
a. What are you actually afraid of?
b. Does it lead to anger, worry, anxiety, or attempts to control others?
c. Are you afraid of the process or the result?
d. What are you avoiding because you have a fear of it?
e. How much is your fear costing you in terms of health and happiness?
f. Can you visualize your life if you don’t do anything, and you let fear hold you back?
g. What did you fear as a child? Teenager? How did you overcome these fears, if you did?
h. What advice would you give someone [a good friend] who said they were too afraid
to pursue their dreams because they could fail?
2. OVERCOMING FEAR BY DIETRICH BONHOEFFER
On January 15, 1933, shortly before Hitler came to power, Bonhoeffer preached this sermon at a vespers service on the evening of the second Sunday after Epiphany. It was a time of great tension in Berlin, and of widespread fear. The Hindenburg government was tottering, indeed was about to go under, and with it Germany’s fragile first republic, created at Weimar after World War I. There was fear of Communism—the “Red Tide from the East”—and other extremist movements, and danger from open fighting in the streets. Amid this storm, Bonhoeffer was no more certain of the future than anyone else, but he was sure that followers of Christ should know where to turn. “God stands above all . . . his Word unstayed,” Bonhoeffer assured the congregation. Engage with his sermon at the following link:
3. LETTING GO OF FEAR IS THE BEGINNING OF FREEDOM
In this thoughtful article, Rev. Jeffrey Haggray celebrates the life, legacy, and lessons of the renowned American statesman John R. Lewis. Haggray writes: “Congressman John R. Lewis, a Baptist minister rose to prominence as a leading student voice in the 1960s civil rights movement by the time he was barely 20. In the face of difficult socio-political circumstances, Mr. Lewis modeled conscientious resolve that, 60 years after he discovered his true calling, inspires countless people even now in their search for vocational clarity during this period of national upheaval.”
4. GROWING MY FAITH IN THE FACE OF DEATH: TIM KELLER
Keller writes: “I have spent a good part of my life talking with people about the role of faith in the face of imminent death. Since I became an ordained Presbyterian minister in 1975, I have sat at countless bedsides, and occasionally even watched someone take their final breath. I recently wrote a small book, On Death, relating a lot of what I say to people in such times. But when, a little more than a month after that book was published, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I was still caught unprepared.”
5. PRAYER FOR TRUST IN GOD
In those moments when you experience anxiety and fear, we encourage you to gain strength and perspective by engaging in this Prayer for Trust in God written centuries ago by St. Ignatius of Loyola.
When all is darkness
and we feel our weakness and helplessness,
please, Lord, give us the sense of Your Presence,
Your love, and Your strength.
Please help us to have perfect trust
in your protecting love
and strengthening power,
so that nothing may frighten or worry us,
for, living close to You,
may we shall see Your hand,
Your purpose, Your will through all things.
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: Ivan Shishkin, The Dark Wood, 1876, private collection
2. SEEDS: Ilya Bolotowsky, Abstraction, 1947, The Alfond Collection of Art
at Rollins College
3. ART: J.M.W. Turner, Fishermen at Sea, 1796, Tate London
4. POETRY: J.M.W. Turner, Snow Storm: Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth, 1842,
5. PROFILE: Chiharu Shiota, Other Side, 2013, Towner Gallery, Eastbourne, UK
6. FILM: Robert Henri, Mountain Ash, Dark Woods, 1911, The Alfond Collection of Art
at Rollins College
7. ESSAY: Georgia O’Keefe, A Street, 1926, The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
8. BOOKS: J.M.W. Turner, The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, 1834,
Philadelphia Museum of Art
9. DIG DEEPER: Mark Rothko, Light Red Over Black, 1957, Tate London
10. ROOTED: Paul Cézanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1902-04, Philadelphia Museum of Art
TEAM CULTIVARE: Duane Grobman (Editor), Lori Andrews, Beth Bolsinger, Billy Brummel, Ben Hunter, Eugene Kim, Rita McIntosh, Jason Miller, Jason Pearson (Design: Pearpod.com)