On the shortest of updates most of the work we were doing has continued, lots of it has evolved. Kathleen now works at Virginia Poverty Law Center in Richmond with funding for school breakfast and lunch among other things. Audrey works at Women's Lunch Place where she used to work as a YAV and still lives in the Boston area. Libby is finishing up an Americorps year with Atlanta Habitat. I'm installing solar panels for a construction company in Virginia. For the most part we are still keeping up with work in the food justice world (although branching into environmental justice, and the larger umbrella of social justice work).
And a quick shout out to Maggie, our site coordinator who was in Jordan where she is teaching and working in the areas of nutrition and public health. Following our YAV year she moved there with Catholic Relief Services. She has been a shining example of a hard worker, and dedicated Christian.
It feels like a gift to have such a strong community founded on a common interest in service, sustainable food, simple living, and Christian community. I hope everyone may find such a community very soon. Now on to the food.
Water in the park
I arrived in Boston earlier than Libby and Kathleen so I wandered to Park Street and played my guitar with an empty ball cap in front of me long enough to get enough cash to buy an expensive bottle of water in the park, and enough cash to give a little to the other musicians out there. I even strummed a few songs with a young lady guitarist before we packed up.
Audrey was cat-sitting for Christine who allowed us to eat some of her garden produce if we picked what was ready for her. So in true YAV-fashion we walked to the garden with our re-usable produce bags, picked some produce (I also picked some purslane and sorrel--the weeds) and we brought that back to the kitchen to create something. A short trip to Whole Foods Market provided a few more fixin's for a salad and some whole chicken for Kathleen to do her magic. The four of us in the house jumped back into character as Tropical Storm Alex (mistakenly called a Hurricane) made a temporary mess chopping up beet greens, spinach and onion for a salad. Meanwhile Kathleen did her magic with lemon-basil chicken (basil grown by Audrey in her back yard) Some goat cheese, home-mixed dressing, roasted beets, day-old strawberries, and that delicious chicken made for a salad like I hadn't eaten in years. And just like old times the two that didn't cook cleaned up after a wonderful meal together that finished at about bed time. We then traveled our full bellies back to Audrey's apartment with the leftovers.
Breakfast with Kevin
The next morning we met Pastor Kevin, one of Libby's mentors and a board member for some egg sandwiches and coffee at City Feed in JP (Jamaica Plains--the place Charlie was going in the song when he got stuck on the MTA). It was good to connect with Kevin again. He updated us on renovations at the Cambridge church, and we told stories.
Snacks with Stacie
After Kevin left I waled over to see Stacie, a former supervisor with BFJN. Stacie helped me learn a whole lot in our short time together so I wanted to say hi. She introduced me to her and Elijah's nine-month old little girl, Eden. (I had no idea she was a mom till I walked in the house) She fed me some leftovers while she fed the baby. We caught up on our new jobs. She is working with gender justice and things related to the LGBT controversies in the churches. She is helping churches in Boston to think through some of the recent controversies like the bathroom-gender argument and really think about what would Jesus do. knowing the transgender community has some of the highest suicide rates, and God calling us to look out for all our neighbors especially the vulnerable. Stacie always gets you thinking. It was good to see her and Eden, and to eat some avocado basil pasta leftovers at her house.
Juice with Jin Min
I then met Jin Min Lee, another mentor from Emanuel Gospel Center who helped me with BFJN work. Jin Min has a long time evangelical background but was recently hired to work with the Episcopal Diocese. That combination of two different worlds seems to be going well. She and I talked about life and bridging the gaps between what we learn as we grow in faith, and how we can bring new knowledge from working with different flavors of faith, into communities of our home and family which tend to be more conservative and haven't seen first hand the new experiences we have. It's something I think about a lot recently starting to settle in rural-majority conservative Virginia after finding theology around food movements and environmental movements which aren't the forefront of politics in this region.
Mediterranian Dinner with Kris and Tedd
Then I finally got back to meet the lady-YAVs with Kris and Tedd, our adopted Aunt and Uncle from Watertown. Kris is a mentor in economic discipleship and food justice work. Back in the day, she taught us a thing or two about canning and opened up her deep freezer to us to save some of our local veggies. Kris is the best that is all there is to it. After we ate some mediteranian food near the ball park, Kris and Tedd took us to a Red Sox game!!!!! I never went during our year of simplicity even though they won the world series that year.
Snacks at the Red Sox Game
We did eat a few peanuts at the game, no cracker jacks. There was a long rain delay when they played all the songs that mentioned rain. Overall I'm glad I went. I'm not much of a baseball fan, but I must say the atmosphere of a baseball game is wonderful. Especially when the Red Sox are winning. I'd imagine it's less appealing when they loose.
|Photo courtesy of Kathleen Murphy and Kris Engdahl|
The next day we had a quick breakfast at the house. Audrey's roommate shared some cereal. It was like LIFE cereal but made with organic whole grains. I Love that LIFE flavor. Life is good.
Nabs in Natick with JoAnn and Jim
Kathleen and I ventured way way out to Natick to see the pantry/clothes closet she used to work for. Her main job was to help start a community garden for the Hartford Street Presbyterian Church and A Place to Turn--the food pantry. She spent all year muddling through the red tape with the city council and politics and didn't see much more than trees getting cut down by the time her year was up. On Saturday she and I saw a fully planted and growing garden replete with a few folks there tending to their space. Each of those beds is rented by an individual in town while several are designated to the church and the interfaith community who give the produce to A Place to Turn to give out to clients in need. Other customers sometimes donate their extra goodies. There were lots of decorative rocks, flowers and ornamental objects to make the garden look very pretty in addition to the simple beauty of the food growing there. It was good for Kathleen to see the fruits of the seeds she helped to plant two years ago. I was impressed seeing the continued enthusiasm for the cause among Jim and JoAnn, Kathleen's mentors who helped continue the work after our parting. They took us out to lunch after seeing the garden.
Second Lunch at Watertown Deluxe Diner
When we finally made it back to the other two girls we ventured out to Watertown where our YAV house was. We got some breakfast food at the Diner and then some of the best yogurt you'll ever find. Sofia's Greek Pantry is this hole in the wall store on Bellmont Street, I think it's technically in Belmont, but this Greek family sells all kinds of Greek food and things. Any shape-d bottle of olive oil, any color olive, etc. etc. and they have home-made Greek yogurt. One variety they mix with honey tastes like it could be cake icing. It's better than cake icing. So we got some of that to eat for the week. Absolutely number one item on the list of food itinerary. Sofia's honey yogurt. Done, journey complete, we can go home now.
Breakfast on the Bus
Sunday I ate breakfast on the bus on my trek up to Burlington where I used to work. I met several church members I hadn't seen since I left who all were happy to see me. Ken, Jen, Shirley, Jim, Marty, Mary Jo, Mark, Kathleen, Joseph, and a few others. It was a very happy morning. Ken spoke up in the time for prayer for joy that I was visiting, and I spoke up for the gratitude I have for this community who got me through a whole lot two years ago. An air of saddness started to set in as we reflected on the losses of my year (Gus and Sarah) and the loss the church saw after I left. Duncan, perhaps the person of that church who made sure the YAV was taken care of passed away last year, the interim pastor Mike left early after discovering a brain tumor and died. Joan's husband Steven passed away. I can't say it's been easy for them or me to go through these losses. We all know these people well, that church stays close. I hope to make it back to see a few more that weren't around this weekend. It was very good for my soul to catch up with these folks over cake and crackers after church like old times.
|The church lawn|
Snappy Sushi Sunday with Rob
Kathleen and Joseph drove me from church to downtown to meet the girls and Pastor Rob at Snappy Sushi for a bite of lunch. Time with Rob feels like a rare gift. He's super busy all the time, but such a fund guy and great role model to have in my life.
Dinner with Beverly and John and Company
Beverly and John Shank hosted us for our very first meal in Boston way back almost three years ago. She is the chair of the YAV board and very much a dear friend. She hosted us again during the visit for dinner with her son and adorable grandson Caleb. We had chicken, bread, salad, tabbouleh salad, and strawberry shortcake. Almost all locally-sourced.
Monday the 4th we all departed after eating cannolis and sandwiches for lunch in the park. After Libby left Kathleen, Audrey and I got some salad greens to add to our leftovers from Thursday for supper and then went over near MIT in Cambridge to watch the fireworks.
Tuesday's lunch I spent with Uncle Sam and Grandma outside of Baltimore waiting for my train to arrive. We had Aunt Toni's delicious July 4 leftover chicken cabbage, carrots, corn on the cob, cranberries, stuffing, gravy, and the best banana pudding I've ever had. They even packed me some to go which made everyone on the train jealous.
So there you have it, the menu of food, fellowship, memory and deep theological conversation. I invite you to think of who you've spent meals with this week, who you would like to eat with, cook with, talk with. Among all the work to feed the sheep, we must stop, relax and dine together with our companions. Let us invite our friends to the table as Jesus invites everyone to his table.