Here are five things worth paying attention to this month. I recommend selecting one or two and jumping in over the next week.
1. Finding God in nature
Lately when I ask, “How have you experienced God this week?” people frequently answer that they’ve found God somewhere in the out-of-doors. Whether that’s going to a favorite park, or gardening, or finding a quiet spot someplace, summertime seems to be the perfect time to get out of the house. For myself, I’ve often found Northern Indiana summers rather oppressive with temperatures in the upper 90s and intense humidity. This summer I’ve taken time to stop and look for God in this season. Food during this time is especially bountiful and delicious. People have socially distanced themselves outside for get-togethers. The night sky has been gorgeous. This week, take time to see God in nature.
2. Checking for misinformation
Even before the pandemic hit, social media was the source for all kinds of misinformation. During our current tumultuous time, I’ve noticed folks from every political stripe posting all kinds of information that is dubious at best and completely false at worst. It’s very tempting to post something that fits our idea of how the world should be or work. Especially now, we need to be careful about what we say, send out and post. Is what we’re posting backed by experts? Has it been researched? Is more than one person saying this? Taking a minute to check ourselves can help keep a lot of misleading information from spreading.
Tobin Miller Shearer, director of African-American studies at the University of Montana, wrote an excellent piece about what can keep Mennonites from true allyship. He talks about “white Mennonite static” and the sticking points that can get white Mennonites caught up in their own culture and whiteness and not the work of being an ally. This article is a must-read for anyone who is working on becoming a better ally.
I was greatly informed this week after reading an article by Wilma Bailey for The Mennonite regarding the taking down of Confederate monuments. While I have fully supported this movement, my motivation in my thinking was based on not elevating slave owners in such a fashion. Bailey points out that in ancient times, the “worship” of statues was to prove who was loyal and who was not among ordinary folk. Western culture can get caught up in the “cult of personality” and Bailey points to Indigenous communities who make it a point not to elevate one individual over others. I was greatly refreshed reading this perspective.
5) Zucchini cheddar cheese herb beer bread
You can tell how many friends you have by the amount of zucchini that shows up at your door this time of year. While our zucchini plant did not produce anything this year, this doesn’t mean I was left off the zucchini train. This vegetable has shown up in fritters, brownies and bread at our house. My favorite recipe so far has been for this cheesy beer bread. Being a quick bread, it takes only a few minutes to assemble. The results are delicious.
Joanne Gallardo is pastor of faith formation at Berkey Avenue Mennonite Fellowship in Goshen, Indiana.