ISSUE No. 4 | NOVEMBER 2020
Welcome to CULTIVARE, 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 STRENGTH TO LOVE. Given the challenging year we
have all navigated – concerned and confined by a pandemic, fatigued by a factious election, and weary and wondering about our future -- our supply of strength in order to truly love may be depleted. We hope this issue will encourage you to replenish what has been eroded by the deluge of conflict and encumbered by the weight of individual and collective pain.
We take this month’s theme from the title of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s classic 1963 work entitled Strength to Love, which is also our Book of the Month. King wrote that: “One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right when the head is totally wrong.” Our hope is that the selections in this issue will speak to both your head and your heart.
In this issue you will encounter an artist who put her unique stamp on love, a poet who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and two bitter enemies who became friends. You’ll be introduced to a documentary film about the best ways to help children without families, and meet a 27-year-political-prisoner turned President who embodied strength to love as he led his country to racial reconciliation. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this month, we are reminded of the health benefits of gratitude.
Exactly 100 years before Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote Strength to Love, Abraham Lincoln made his famous “Proclamation of Thanksgiving” which established our national Day of Thanksgiving. On October 3, 1863, against the backdrop of the ongoing Civil War, Lincoln concluded his proclamation with these prescient and powerful words which resonate still today:
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
Love don’t get to quit. (African-American saying) In many ways Abraham Lincoln led from this sentiment. This Thanksgiving, this season, may God give us all the strength not to quit. May God grace us with the strength to love. (DG)
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6: 27-28 NIV)
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18 - NIV)
A handful of quotes to contemplate and cultivate into your life
To love is to move as close to the other as is possible without violating the other’s dignity and personhood. (David Augsburger)
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. (C.S. Lewis)
Love can change a person the way a parent can change a baby – awkwardly, and often with a great deal of mess. (Lemony Snicket)
If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in. (Frederick Buechner)
Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone's face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come. (Henri Nouwen)
Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, "Love your enemies." It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.
(Martin Luther King Jr.)
Image above: Kent quoted the Beatles' "Things We Said Today" in a 1965 piece called look, which appropriates the logo from Look magazine followed by the words "Love is here to stay. And that's enough."
Our artist of the month is Corita Kent
I have a framed serigraph that hangs on my office wall. It portrays a large butterfly that is accompanied by the words: hope is the memory of the future, have a hand in it. The words are a quote from philosopher Gabriel Marcel but the painting was conceived and created by our artist of the month, Corita Kent. For those unfamiliar with her, Corita Kent (1918 – 1986) also known as Sister Mary Corita Kent, was an American Roman Catholic religious sister, artist, designer and educator. Her art often incorporated words and reflected her views of Christianity and social justice.
At the age of 18 Kent entered the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart, a teaching order, taking the name Sister Mary Corita. Initially she taught young children on an Inuit Reservation in British Columbia until returning to Los Angeles to study for her bachelor's degree at Immaculate Heart College and her master's degree at University of Southern California. She would become the head of the art department at Immaculate Heart College where she taught a wide variety of painting styles. Her artwork contained her distinctive spiritual expression and love for God.
Sister Corita Kent's primary medium was silk screen, also known as serigraphy. Her innovative methods pushed back the limitations of two-dimensional mediums of the times. Kent's emphasis on printing was partially due to her wish for democratic outreach, as she desired affordable art for the masses (of which I am grateful). Her artwork, with its messages of love and peace, was particularly popular during the social turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s. After her cancer diagnosis in 1974, she entered a prolific period in her career. This included large “canvases” as well as small. Kent’s Rainbow Swash design on the LNG storage tank in Boston (which can be seen from Interstate 93) is the largest copyrighted work of art in the world. She also created the 1985 version of the United States Postal Service's special Love stamp.
To learn more about Kent’s life and work explore her biography and artwork on the corita.org website:
Corita Kent, wide open, 1964, Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain, Brest
Art does not come from thinking but from responding. (Corita Kent)
Words have life and must be cared for. If they are stolen for ugly uses or careless slang or false promotion work, they need to be brought back to their original meaning – back to their roots. (Corita Kent)
Life – new life, 1966
Creativity belongs to the artist in each of us. To create means to relate. The root meaning of the word art is “to fit together” and we all do this every day.
Touched by an Angel
We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.
Nobel Peace Prize winner
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
When you think of a person in history who embodied strength to love, who do you think of? Who are the individuals that inspire you to exercise the strength to love? When I contemplate the question, I am propelled back to graduate school at Harvard in 1994. It was then that I had the privilege of witnessing two of my classmates, two black South African sisters, return from the South African Consulate in Boston with tears still running down their faces. They had just cast their first-ever vote in South Africa’s first all-race democratic election -- an election which resulted in Nelson Mandela being elected President.
A decade later I found myself visiting Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island and also the Victor Verster Prison from which he would be released to freedom. Having faced the challenges of apartheid, physical imprisonment, and doubt, Mandela nonetheless wielded his extraordinary spirit to improve the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen and women, as an activist, scholar, leader, and, ultimately, one of the world’s greatest-ever humanitarians. Mandela died at the age of 95 in 2013. Truth and reconciliation are words often associated with him. His life stands as a testament to the power and promise of an individual who embodied the strength to love. (DG)
To learn more about Mandela’s ability to exercise strength to love, we encourage our readers to explore National Geographic’s article Nelson Mandela and the Power of Forgiveness from 2013 on the occasion of Mandela’s passing.
Each month we recommend films focused on our theme
DOCUMENTARY: LOST KITES (2016)
“I want to see what is the best way to help children without families – what is that?”
Asked director, Samuel Rich. And so he and his team set out on a 22 nation journey for two years, with a lean budget from crowdfunding and donations from family and friends. Statistics appeared daunting at the start, 8-10 million children living in orphanages, and 100 million on the streets, but the more the they traveled, the more hope for family began to emerge. Over 70 interviews with social workers, advocates, doctors, and authors revealed strategies that the team is now sharing with the world in their film. This beautifully shot documentary-style film follows the lives of three orphans, each from a different country. As the film unfolds we begin to glimpse a subversive underlying idea - that God's heart is to place the lonely in families, not orphanages.
FEATURE FILM: HACKSAW RIDGE (2016)
This is the compelling true story of conscientious objector Desmond T. Doss who saved 75 men in Okinawa, during the bloodiest battle of World War II, without firing a single shot. Written by Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan, it is based on the 2004 documentary The Conscientious Objector. The film focuses on the World War II experiences of Desmond Doss, an American pacifist combat medic who, as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, refused to carry or use a weapon or firearm of any kind. Doss became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor, for service above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Okinawa. Andrew Garfield stars as Doss, with Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, and Vince Vaughn in supporting roles. NOTE: The film contains depictions of violence during battle scenes.
Our “Essay” this month consists of three prayers: A Prayer for Healing, A Prayer for our Enemies, and A Prayer of Thanksgiving. In order to have the strength to love we need to look to God for the courage and ardor to love in ways beyond our human strength and fortitude. Prayer has power. Karl Barth described the power of prayer in this way: To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world. In the words of Mother Teresa:
Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.
A Prayer for Healing
Jesus, please bring your healing presence into my life.
I feel pain, but I do not understand its origin, nor do I
know how to find relief, except by calling on you. You must
be my Relief, you must be my Healing. I come to you by
faith, asking for help, based on your compassionate heart.
As my Creator, please show me compassion. Demonstrate
your ability to save, heal, and deliver. Remake me. I offer
myself and my life to you. Enter into my story through the
work of your Spirit. Please reveal your truth. I wait upon
your word, and I wait upon you. Glorify your name, I pray
for Jesus’ sake, Amen.
(From Canyon Road, Kari Kristina Reeves, p. 90)
A Prayer for our Enemies
Restore what was lost in the fires of my enemy’s life, O Lord.
You know, you see, the devastation, the scorched places of
her interior life. O Lord, in your mercy, bring fresh wind and
new life into those blackened places of her spirit.
Do not let evil dwell there.
Remove the debris and all that is charred.
Set aright that which has been turned over, and cleanse
the air of disruption.
I am too tired, and weary, to do this work myself. I am
unable. But you are able, Lord, and I know you are willing.
So I stand here interceding, and smelling the smoke.
Clear the air, dear Lord, of her life, that she might
breathe freely, at last.
And make us enemies no more.
(From Canyon Road, Kari Kristina Reeves, p. 368)
A Prayer of Thanksgiving
Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so freely bestowed upon us:
For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and sky and sea,
We thank you, Lord.
For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and our friends,
We thank you, Lord.
For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve,
We thank you, Lord.
For health and strength to work, and time to rest and worship,
We thank you, Lord.
For all who are patient in suffering and faithful in adversity,
We thank you, Lord.
For all who earnestly seek after truth, and all who labor for justice,
We thank you, Lord.
For all that is good and gracious in the lives of men and women,
revealing the image of Christ,
We thank you, Lord.
For the communion of saints, in all times and places,
We thank you, Lord.
Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord;
To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father,
and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.
(Book of Common Prayer (2019) p. 680)
Each month we recommend a book focused on our theme.
Book of the Month
Strength to Love
Martin Luther King, Jr.
“If there is one book Martin Luther King, Jr. has written that people consistently tell me has changed their lives, it is Strength to Love.”
So wrote Coretta Scott King. She continued: "I believe it is because this book best explains the central element of Martin Luther King, Jr.' s philosophy of nonviolence: His belief in a divine, loving presence that binds all life. That insight, luminously conveyed in this classic text, hints at the personal transformation at the root of social justice: ‘By reaching into and beyond ourselves and tapping the transcendent moral ethic of love, we shall overcome these evils’.”
In these short meditative and sermonic pieces, some of them composed in jails and all of them crafted during the tumultuous years of the Civil Rights struggle, Dr. King articulated and espoused in a deeply personal and compelling way his commitment to justice and to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual conversion that makes his work as much a blueprint today for Christian discipleship as it was then.
Originally published in 1963, here are a few quotes to give you a glimpse of King’s insights and wisdom:
*In spite of this prevailing tendency to conform, we as Christians have a mandate to be nonconformists. The Apostle Paul, who knew the inner realities of the Christian faith, counseled, ‘Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ We are called to be people of conviction, not conformity; of moral nobility, not social respectability. We are commanded to live differently and according to a higher loyalty.
*On the parable of the Good Samaritan: "I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was: 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?' But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question: 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?
*The greatness of our God lies in the fact that He is both tough minded and tender hearted. ... God expresses His tough mindedness in His justice and wrath and His tenderheartedness in His love and grace. ... On the one hand, God is a God of justice who punished Israel for her wayward deeds, and on the other hand, He is a forgiving father whose heart was filled with unutterable joy when the prodigal son returned home.
by Kar Min
Kar Min writes a blog entitled The Salt Cellar. She is a 2016 Princeton graduate who grew up in Singapore. She describes herself as “a Christian, grateful and undeserving, and learning to walk joyfully with God every day.” Her book review is entitled Taking the Narrow Path: Reflections on Dr. King’s “Strength to Love.”
Practical suggestions to help you go deeper into our theme
1. CONFRONTING THE NEED: Be honest with yourself. Who are the individuals in your life that you need the strength to love? Spend time this month contemplating the various ways you can seek God’s power to help you love. Talk with a trusted friend or family member and ask for their support in helping you to begin to exercise strength to love those individuals.
2. THE DISCIPLINE OF PRAYER: Choose a prayer from those included in the “Essay” section and, as a spiritual discipline, pray it every day for a week. Then choose another prayer and pray it daily for a week.
3. IN HIS OWN VOICE: If you do not have the time to read Martin Luther King’s book Strength to Love this month, we heartily encourage you to watch this 9-minute excerpt from his sermon entitled Love Your Enemies.
4. ARTHUR BROOKS ON HIS BOOK LOVING YOUR ENEMIES:
Author Arthur Brooks explains that one reason we struggle to love well is the contempt we feel for others. The subtitle for his recent book is: How Decent People Can Save America From Our Culture of Contempt. In this 6-minute video Brooks illuminates the dynamics involved.
5. TWO BITTER ENEMIES BECOME FRIENDS: Jameel McGee and former police officer Andrew Collins' lives became intertwined when Collins put McGee in jail for a crime he didn't commit. What happened when the two wound up working in the same place years later? Watch this 3-minute video to find out.
6. THE POWER OF GRATITUDE: The health benefits of expressing gratitude are many, and some might surprise you. In this article, you will discover that expressing gratitude reduces stress, increases optimism, and changes your brain. Gratitude is a virtue in more ways than just saying, “thank you.”
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.
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Images used in order of appearance:
1. FIELD: Michelangelo, The Creation of Adam, 1508-1512
2. SEEDS: Norman Rockwell, The Golden Rule, 1961
3. ART: Corita Kent, look, 1965
4. POETRY: Ferdinand Hodler, The Good Samaritan, 1885
5. PROFILE: A mural of former South African President Nelson Mandela
6. FILM: Sandy Freckleton Gagon, Whither Thou Goest, undated
7. ESSAY: Gustav Klimt, The Kiss, 1907-1908
8. BOOKS: Martin Luther King, Jr. joins hands with other African American
leaders singing “We Shall Overcome” at a church rally in Selma, Alabama
on March 9, 1965. AP photographer.
9. DIG DEEPER: Robert Indiana, Love (City of Philadelphia), 1976
10. ROOTED: Carl Larsson, Lisbeth Laying the Table, 1910
TEAM CULTIVARE: Duane Grobman (Editor), Lori Andrews, Billy Brummel, Ben Hunter, Eugene Kim, Rita McIntosh, Jason Miller, Jason Pearson (Design: Pearpod.com)