New Year’s Resurecction : Part 2 : Personal Reflections

(Author’s Note: This post is the second in a set of three considering the importance of Christ’s resurrection in the Christian’s life. The first post in the series can be found here…)

I’ve been struck by the resurrection of Christ, and its importance in our daily life, for quite some time. When we say we believe in the resurrection of Christ and that, through Him, we are granted eternal life, what we are really saying is, that somehow or another, those who have faith in Jesus are immortal. Wow! That’s pretty powerful!
But most of our current understandings of death make it anything but something to be anticipated with joy. Instead, Western thought by-and-large deals with death as something “tragic” or, at the very least, to be delayed as much as possible.
In Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, Eugene Peterson summarizes our present obsession with viewing death as either tragic or untimely. He explains:

The view of death as tragic is a legacy of the Greeks. The Greeks wrote with elegance of tragic deaths—lives pursued with the best of intentions but then enmeshed in circumstances that brought a fatal flaw into play and, indifferent to heroism or hope, cancelled the intentions….

Procrastinated death is a legacy of modern medicine. In a culture where life is reduced to heartbeat and brainwave, death can never be accepted as having meaning beyond itself…

It’s this negative view of death that can underline most, if not all, of the other core fears we face. For instance, isn’t the fear of death the underlying fear when we ask ourselves “Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing with my life?” or “What kind of legacy do I want to leave?” and even “How will history remember me?”

A proper, Christ-centered response to this question requires every believer to remember, as Peterson points out, that death, particularly Christ’s death, is ‘for us and our salvation’. In other words, if we truly, truly believed that, through Jesus, we have eternal life, these questions no longer have any place because they are all temporal questions, questions stuck in our view of our lives as something with a beginning…and an end. These questions emphasize an understanding of death as something that is final, as “the worse case scenario” for any situation.

Truly believing in the eternal life promised through faith in Jesus reminds me where I really need to focus is trusting and obeying Jesus in a moment by moment sort of way…because, somehow, through faith in Jesus Christ, there will always be more moments.

Planting Onions at Green Earth Institute

green earth institute planting onion seeds

Yesterday I headed over to the Green Earth Institute, located at the McDonald Farm in Naperville, IL, to help plant onion seeds. The work is pretty simple: take a tray divided into 72 dirt-filled cells, pour a handful of seeds into a folded index card, use an untwisted paper clip to carefully separate eight tiny little seeds and gently shuffle the eight seeds into in single cell of dirt. Repeat 72 times until every cell has seeds.

I specifically worked on planting Parade onion seeds. With a germination rate of 80%, the eight seeds planted per tray will likely yield bunches of 6 scallions, which will all grow and be harvested together—not unlike the bunches of scallions you pick out at the grocery store.

I found hand-planting seeds to be a heart-warming activity, especially in the dead of winter that is mid-February in Chicago. The task is simultaneously tedious yet calming, repetitive yet meditative. Anyone who knows their numbers one through eight can participate, which means even young children can contribute to this early-season chore, while the purposeful nature of the work makes it an engaging task for “more mature” volunteers, too.

I always enjoy volunteering at the Green Earth Institute, not only because the work you do is gratifying, but also because the other volunteers you meet are genuine and gracious. I leave filling inspired and encouraged by the conversations I share with fellow volunteers. Easily ranging from simple get-to-know-you questions like “Do you have any pets?” to topics of more depth like the importance of Norway’s seed bank, the conversations shared over a tray of seeds yesterday reminded me (again) that farming is not just about loving and enjoying the land; it’s about loving and enjoying people, too.

green earth institute volunteer at csa naperville farmgreen earth institute csa farm naperville onion plantingonion seeds in jar ready for planting naperville il farm csavolunteers plant onions at green earth institute conservation center naperville ilgreen earth institute learn about gardens and farmssteve tiwald at green earth institute onion planting naperville ilonion seeds in package ready for planting naperville il csagreen earth institute onion plants ready to grow csa napervillesteve tiwald green earth institute sarah parisi farm photography illinoisonion seeds in trays ready to grow naperville csavolunteer at local csa farm in naperville ilsoil growing onions naperville il csa farm green earth institute

All  images © 2013 Sarah Parisi. Please do not use without permission.

Five Years Time

My new favorite band Noah and the Whale (a British Rock ‘n’ Roll quintet) play a song titled “5 Years Time.” I enjoy the tune for its honest approach to the brevity of most of our closest relationships. The song suggests that while our culture is adamant about loving hard and well, we are not so concerned with longevity. Through “5 Years Time,” Noah and the Whale highlight our ok-ness with moving from relationship to relationship, community to community. The song emphasizes our culture’s ever-on-the-move mentality where it’s hard to imagine today’s relationships withstanding five year’s time.

The culture this song describes isn’t something “out there” for me: the “close” friends I have today are not the ones I had just three years ago. A few of the friends from yesteryear moved and the miles put distance into our relationship. But others, nay, most, still live just down the street. Sure, I might be going to a different church now. They may have gotten married. Still others may have started more demanding careers. But I can’t help but remember that a mere three years ago all of us were “forever friends.” And today, well I might be lucky if I see them in the produce section of Whole Foods.

It seems, to me, the trend-words-du-jour like “community” and “authenticity” have made it all too easy for us to step into each other’s lives and build wells of connections. Conversely, our utmost preference for transience and novelty have made it even easier to fill in those wells with dirt and move on to new, not-yet-tasted springs of water.

As I read more and more books about farming, I’m touched by the necessity of being bound to the land you tend. And not bound for a season. Or a year. Or a decade. But for a lifetime. Good farming requires close study of the land, study matched equally with adaptation and persistence. In his 2004 essay titled “Renewing Husbandry,” Wendell berry calls the farmer’s study of the land husbandry. Berry writes:

“The word husbandry is the name of connection….Old usage tells us that there is a husbandry also of the land, of the soil, of the domestic plants and animals. To husband is to use with care, to keep, to save, to make last, to conserve….Husbandry is the name of all the practices that sustain life by connecting us conservingly to our places and our world; it is the art of keeping tied all the strands in the living network that sustains us.”

Today I’m meditating on what it would look like to husband my relationships—to be intent on cultivating my connection with the people who sustain me in my day-to-day living for the long-haul…or at least five years time.

The Abundant Life

In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells the Parable of the Good Shepherd wherein he promises his disciples that He has come to give “abundant” life to all those who believe (John 10:10 NAS). In Matthew, Jesus is heard qualifying the abundant life as one filled with rest, commanding his followers to “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30, NIV)

I believe in Jesus and I believe these words are His. But truth be told, I’m often persuaded to discount the reality of their implications. All too often, the unending ordinariness of my life breeds a gnawing sense of discontent and a desire for more. More joy. More peace. More beauty. More abundance.

This Beautiful Life is a personal project—a vision and calling, really—to consider what it means to live abundantly, to live beautifully. Not in some far-off future, but in this here and now, tangibly in this world’s reality. It’s about learning to embrace the journey while living in the destination, sensing that somewhere in-between is that “more joy, more peace, and more satisfaction” I so crave.

Welcome to the destination. Welcome to this beautiful life.