top of page

ISSUE No. 33 | MAY 2O23

Subscribe to Cultivare

If you found this issue helpful we encourage you to email it to others.  

Thanks for submitting!


ISSUE No. 33 | May 2023


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 PARTNERSHIP.  In a day and age when individualism is highly prized, we want to shine a light on the goodness, grace, and generative nature of partnership.  While we affirm the value of each individual and their freedom to pursue their dreams and aspirations, we believe those dreams and aspirations are often enriched and extended by working in partnership with others. 


The dictionary offers these synonyms for partnership: assistance, brotherhood, combine, community, connection, cooperative, friendship, help, interest, ownership, sharing, sisterhood, togetherness, union.  Partnerships take on various forms, from empowering friendships (David & Jonathan), to artistic expression (Simon & Garfunkle), to business venture (Jobs & Wozniak), to athletic excellence (Serena & Venus), to scientific discovery (Watson & Crick), to marriage (think of your favorite couple).  And partnerships take on different sizes, from NASA mission crews, to Super Bowl Champions, to whole communities.


In this issue we spotlight a street artist who works in partnership with communities to bring color and creativity to enliven and enrich a neighborhood.  We feature two Christian mystics of different genders and generations who formed an extraordinary partnership.  We offer an article by Michael Wear who reflects on what he learned in the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.  And our book of the month by Michael Lewis spotlights a real-life partnership that “changed our minds.” 


Positive, generative change often comes through the supportive and synergistic outcome of partnerships.  Like coals on a fire, the more coals joined together the greater the warmth, light, and continuance. Scripture reminds us that we were never meant to be alone (recall the Creation story) and that as we journey forward in our lives, we have the confidence that God partners with us: When two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I'll be there. (Matt. 18:20 MSG). May you be encouraged that you are not alone, that God is always partnering with us and delights when we partner with one another. (DG)


It's better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth.

(Ecclesiastes 4:9 MSG)


Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.

Separated, you can't produce a thing. (John 15:4-5 MSG)


By yourself you're unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn't easily snapped. (Ecclesiastes 4:12 MSG).



A handful of quotes to contemplate and cultivate into your life


I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.

(Mother Teresa)

No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.  (H.E. Luccock)

A partner's different perspective is valuable, but the very fact that it is different means that it will require work, humility, time, and resources to incorporate that perspective. At times, this will require checking one's pride at the door.  (Ron Garan)


Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success. (Henry Ford)


Partnership is giving, taking, learning, teaching, offering the greatest possible benefit while doing the least possible harm.  (Octavia E. Butler)

Compassion grows with the inner recognition that your neighbor shares your humanity with you. This partnership cuts through all walls which might have kept you separate. Across all barriers of land and language, wealth and poverty, knowledge and ignorance, we are one, created from the same dust, subject to the same laws, destined for the same end.

(Henri Nouwen)

But in a real Christian partnership, one member’s guidance is always submitted to the other’s for correction and confirmation. (Brother Andrew)

Partnering with God, we cease to see a partitioned world of buffered people. By rejecting this “I get mine you get yours” religion we stop mistaking our faith as a means of compelling others to become something they are not: me. At the very core saying “yes” to God is about becoming a whole of paradoxically interdependent parts. (C. Andrew Doyle)

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. (Helen Keller)




Artist of the Month

Caledonia Curry

aka Swoon

By Heather Shackelford

It’s been common in recent decades to remind ourselves of the prophet Jeremiah’s counsel for those in exile: to seek the welfare of the city they are in. Caledonia Curry, aka Swoon, is an artist known for seeking and prioritizing the welfare of the cities and communities in which she has been placed. She has been particularly masterful at bringing together people with critical sets of skills and gifts to work in partnership on beautiful, imaginative and redemptive projects.


Curry is at her core a street artist–working in wheat-paste cutouts, often larger-than life-size images of people, marked by intricate design work. She brings her skills as a printmaker, painter and installation artist to all her projects. While street artists strive to get their art out to the public, few are as committed to also engaging and partnering with the public as Curry. When hearing Curry talk about her work and projects, whether in videos or her essays, the pronoun “I” and “my” are less frequently used than the words “we” and “our” and “let’s”.


In the early 2000s, many urban spaces in Brooklyn became adorned with Curry’s wheat-pasted cutouts. She delighted in stories of how these images created connections between people in their neighborhoods. This ultimately fueled (literally, at times) a flotilla of other projects that were manned with multi-disciplinary artists and launched with a shared sense of purpose, collaboration and intentionality. Some the of earlier examples of this were the very experiential sculptural, musical, and daring boat projects, which combined sea crossings, communal living and improbably constructed floating edifices called respectively The Swimming Cities of Serenissima, Swimming Cities of the Switchback Sea and The Miss Rockaway Armada.


Curry’s willingness to tackle ambitious projects because of and for the sake of community has found many outlets, one of which was in Braddock PA, where she rallied many fellow artists, friends and people in the neighborhood to restore a condemned church building. Through that project they established a multi-faceted organization, Braddock Tiles, that created art, jobs, and community pride for the people of that city. Another opportunity arrived when the Haitian earthquake hit in 2010. Curry and her friends became curious as to how a group of artists could make a difference, and the Konbit project began to take shape. In Haiti she gathered artists, architects and helpers to build a beautiful earth-bag-based community center in the Komye neighborhood. The team and the residents of that community then built three homes and additional buildings, using what they’d learned together, all while managing to make sure these spaces were visually stunning and a delight to be in.


Curry’s art itself reflects her concern for what is human, and what human dignity looks like. In it, there is a constant combination of lavish rich textures, bright colors and often whimsical designs and patterns which serve to accentuate figures and faces that carry a concrete real-worldliness. In the countenances and postures of her figures and portraits there is presence and beauty, but also a deep sense of humanness and edginess–these are not airbrushed visages. These faces, that seem to watch you as you pass, have seen some things. This direct engagement is to be expected from a prophetic artist that projects hope and beauty, while not looking away from what is devastating. The call to take in and partner grief with beauty is one that Christians are called to also. This was the call that the prophet Jeremiah was calling those exiles of old to, and one that Caledonia Curry is modeling for us.


To learn more about Swoon visit her website:  View Now »



by Maya Angelou


Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can't use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They've got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I'll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
'Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.



Teresa of Avila & John of the Cross

By Greg Ehlert 

In sixteenth-century Europe, the religious, social, and political landscape experienced seismic shifts due to a host of factors.  Riding the wave of the new technology of the printing press, the Protestant Reformation expanded rapidly after Martin Luther’s 95 Theses in 1517 and the Catholic Counter-Reformation developed soon thereafter.  From external appearances, an unlikely partnership developed between an older yet vivacious Carmelite nun and a reserved and younger Carmelite monk.


The Carmelite Order was established in the late 12th Century by a group of European monks who traveled to Mt. Carmel to live a life devoted to poverty, penance, and prayer.  Inspired by the zeal and devotion of the prophet Elijah and the Virgin Mary, the Carmelites were unwavering in their commitment to the vocation of a life solely devoted to God.  Driven out of Palestine in the 13th Century, the Carmelite Order returned to Europe where it underwent a significant drift from its original rule.  In 1515, Teresa Sanchez de Capeda y Ahumada was born near Avila, Spain to relatively wealthy parents.  With a strong, outgoing, and charismatic personality, Teresa of Avila became a Carmelite nun and had a passion to restore the Carmelite Order to its original austere rule.


Juan de Yepes y Alvarez was born in 1542 in Fontiveros, Spain, near Avila, twenty-seven years after Teresa.  Born into a poor family, John of the Cross was a quiet, reserved Carmelite friar who considered joining the Carthusian Order because of its strong emphasis on solitude and contemplation.  On a trip to Medina del Campo in 1567, the 25-year-old John met Teresa who was staying in Medina to found a second convent.  Teresa passionately shared her vision with John to establish Carmelite communities that adhered to a rule of abstinence, fasting, contemplation, and prayer.  Teresa boldly asked John to delay transferring to the Carthusians and instead to partner with her in the work of reforming the Carmelites.  John agreed and established the first such community in 1568.


John and Teresa’s partnership forged a missional bond that was a model and inspiration to nuns and friars alike.  Although their personalities and backgrounds were different, their friendship was marked by mutual respect and unwavering trust.  Informed by the synergy of their partnership, Teresa wrote in a letter, “What a wonderful thing it is for two souls to understand each other, for they neither lack something to say nor grow tired.”  This mutual support and energy they shared helped them endure significant and sometimes severe resistance to their reforms.  John was eventually imprisoned and tortured for 9-months during the establishment of what became the Discalced Carmelites. 


Humor and joy infused their relationship, and John was impacted greatly by Teresa’s spontaneous acts of worship.  Teresa would often call John “half of a friar” as he stood barely five feet tall.  Teresa would sometimes dance while singing in front of the nuns under her leadership.  John once picked-up a statue depicting the baby Jesus and danced around the room at the monastery in front of his fellow friars.  As their partnership grew, John eventually became Teresa’s spiritual director and confessor along with over 100 other nuns at the Incarnation Convent. 


The partnership of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross not only resulted in dozens of Carmelite convents and monasteries but also in the great mystical works of Teresa’s Interior Castle and John’s Dark Night of the Soul among others.  Their shared passion for developing communities totally immersed in God continue to inspire and infuse Christians towards contemplation and depth in the spiritual life today.  The fruit of their ministry partnership is a legacy greater than the sum of its parts.



Each month we recommend films focused on our theme

Feature Film

Ford v. Ferrari (2019)

Ford v. Ferrari is a film focused on the real-life relationship between American car designer, Carroll Shelby, and driver Ken Miles. Their collaboration began as an effort to build (and race) a car that could defeat Ferrari at the 24-hour Le Mans race of 1966. That collaboration grew to a lasting partnership that illustrates not only some of the challenges presented when two try to work as one, but also what can be accomplished when we join our own limitations and talents with the contrasting limitations and talents of another. The movie highlights the fact that partnership not only produces something, the best partnerships also change us. The relationship between Shelby and Miles illustrated in Ford v. Ferrari shows that the challenges and sacrifices involved in partnership shape us individually, and often lead to friendships forged in the process. Available on various streaming services.

Documentary Film

The Eagle Huntress (2016)

The Eagle Huntress follows Aisholpan, a 13-year old girl, as she trains to become the first female in twelve generations of her Kazakh family to become an eagle hunter, and rises to the pinnacle of a tradition that has been handed down from father to son for generations. Set against the breathtaking expanse of the Mongolian steppe, The Eagle Huntress features some of the most awe-inspiring cinematography ever captured in a documentary, giving this intimate tale of a young girl’s quest the dramatic force of an epic narrative film. The movie highlights the partnership we can forge with a parent and with the animal kingdom that lead us to new heights of understanding and achievement.  Available on various streaming services.

Short Film

A Pen Pal’s Unswerving Faith

(3 minutes)

Twenty-five years ago, an inmate serving a life sentence in a Missouri prison wrote to a church outside St. Louis hoping that someone would write back. Ever since, Ginny Schrappen corresponded with Lamar Johnson, convinced that his 1995 murder conviction was wrong. In February 2023, Johnson was exonerated and released from prison. Now, the 80-year-old retired schoolteacher could finally welcome the former inmate in her home.

View Now »



TED Talk 

Let’s Work Together: Arthur Brooks

(14 Minutes)

Conservatives and liberals both believe that they alone are motivated by love while their opponents are motivated by hate. How can we solve problems with so much polarization? In this talk, social scientist Arthur Brooks shares ideas for what we can each do as individuals to break the gridlock. "We might just be able to take the ghastly holy war of ideology that we're suffering under and turn it into a competition of ideas," he says.

View Now »



The Potential of Partnerships
By Michael Wear

Partnership is both a powerful tool for public policy, and a particular kind of spiritual fidelity.


In this 2013 article in Christianity Today, author Michael Wear, who served in the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships during the Obama administration, writes on the power and potential of partnership.  He observes:


Today, partnership—a simple, benign idea in general—is perhaps one of the most counter-cultural concepts in practice. Division and polarization are now common themes in our lives. This is certainly true in our nation’s Capital, where our politics is too often characterized by seemingly institutionalized gridlock and partisanship that prevents action on the issues that matter most. However, if we are honest with ourselves, we know that this spirit is not just confined to Washington. In our culture, our media, even our relationships, we often find it easier to retreat to spaces that only reaffirm our existing beliefs, rather than sincerely seeking to understand the perspective of those with whom we may disagree. 

We encourage you to read the entire article at this link:  View Now »




Each month we recommend a book (or two) focused on our theme

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed our Minds

By Michael Lewis

Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original papers that invented the field of behavioral economics. One of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, Kahneman and Tversky’s extraordinary friendship incited a revolution in Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’s own work possible. In The Undoing Project, Lewis shows how their Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality.

View Now »

Children’s Book

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

By Mac Barnett


Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So, they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. Attentive readers will be rewarded with a rare treasure in this witty story of looking for the extraordinary — and finding it in a manner you’d never expect.  A 2015 Caldecott Honor book.

View Now »



Practical suggestions to help you go deeper into our theme


Devote some time and thought to these reflective questions on our theme:

a.   Who has been a helpful partner in your life?

b.   What facets of your partnership have been most meaningful to you?

c.   When establishing a new partnership, how do you go about learning and growing together?

d.   How important is it to you that you share the same goals and values?

e.   How do you handle anger and conflict?

f.   Do you know how to be forgiving?

g.  Are you willing to face the tough stuff together?



2.    ALLIES:  In this short article by Preston Pouteaux, he tells the story of how his wife turned a small group of guava thieves into allies and encourages us to imagine what our neighborhoods would look like if we saw the people on our street as our allies, friends, and partners. View Now »




Dr. Phil Arendt offers a short study on the word “partnership” and its derivatives in the Bible.

He provides four significant insights. View Now »



4.     SONG:  TOGETHER  by Chris Tomlin

View Now »





All-knowing and loving God, throughout human history, you have brought people of good will together to further your creative plan of love and healing for the world. In your wisdom, lead us to forging new partnerships, so that your healing light might be experienced by more people in a deeper way.

May our partnerships be grounded in love and respect. Help us to recognize our group’s diversity and unique gifts complement each other. We pray that through our partnership, more people will receive your healing and wholeness. Bless the work we do together so that an abundant harvest of your love, justice and peace will be known by all, and the glory of your Holy Name will be revealed. Amen.

dig deeper


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)


CULTIVARE is a ministry of TEND and is offered free to our subscribers.  We are grateful to our donors who help underwrite our costs.  If you would like to support the ongoing work of CULTIVARE, please consider us in your giving. All financial contributions to TEND

(a 501c3 ministry) for CULTIVARE are tax-deductible.  

Subscribe to CULTIVARE for free! 



Images used in order of appearance:

1.   FIELD:   EPA/Patrick B. Kraemer, Russian Synchronized Swimming winning gold in Team competition at Rio Olympics, 2016


2.  SEEDS:   Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill, The New York Times Photo Archives, Redux


3.  ART:   Swoon, Three Community Partnership Projects.  See her website:


4.  POETRY:  Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes


5.   PROFILE:   Statues of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross,


6.   FILM:  The United States team of Allyson Felix, Dalilah Muhammad, Athing Mu, and Sydney Mclaughlin, from left, celebrate winning the gold medal in the final of the women’s 4 x 400-meter relay at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

7.   ESSAY:  Courtesy of Apple Computer, Inc., Steven Jobs, Apple I circuit, and Stephen Wozniak, 1976

8.   BOOKS:  Petbarn, Australia


9.   DIG DEEPER:  Community Workshop


10.   ROOTED:  The Trinity, Andrei Rublev, 1411 or 1425-1427,

Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, Moscow

TEAM CULTIVARE: Duane Grobman (Editor), Elizabeth Bolsinger, Amy Drennan, Greg Ehlert, Bonnie Fearer, Ben Hunter, Eugene Kim, Nick Kinnier, Andrew Massey, Rita McIntosh, Jason Miller, Heather Shackelford, Jason Pearson (Design:



We welcome hearing your thoughts on this issue

and suggestions for future issues.

Email us at:

bottom of page