Supper was light and cool—
gazpacho with homegrown tomatoes,
black bean salad, humus…
together, we cut up a cantaloupe,
candy-sweet,
a perfectly ripe watermelon and made smoothies.
It was 7 or so,
the breeze had cooled,
when we set out on the road
walking to the labyrinth.
Conversation was effortless.

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We stopped to notice a zillion grasshoppers,
one swimming in the creek;
Indian Blanket, Hollyhock, Flax blooming
on the pond dam.
At the labyrinth we stood amazed
at the beauty there, atop the prairie.
360 degrees of soft green,
in late July
in Oklahoma.

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Earth would move up in front of the sun
soon. We walked our intentions around
the outside of the labyrinth,
then each entered.
Grass wall is thigh-high;
white flowers too.
Small pink-lavender ones
shorter, in the short grass.

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Each at our own pace,
in silence,
we follow our feet around curves
and switchbacks, passing
one another, into the center,
under a wide, wide, wide bowl of sky,
in the middle of a circle of prairie,
tree-lined creek, cattle
grazing,
silence still,
golden light.
Silence still
going out,
back toward the reasons
we came here
to seek solace,
direction.

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Watching the sun disappear then,
light shimmer on the pond,
Nighthawk squawk and swoop,
it was good to be together,
friends,
here.

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As we walked down, back,
slowly,
we stopped to watch 10 white cranes
take places for the night
in the Cypress trees
on the islands in the pond.
And then we noticed
a dark hunch
alone
in a dead tree,
high,
its back to us,
but no doubt:
a Bald Eagle.

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It was dark by the time
we made it back to the front porch
of the farm house.
They gathered their things
and left for their homes.

 

With the abundance of summer growth
this is an opportune time of year
to practice what we’ve been learning:
that Earth and humans benefit
by eating less meat
(using it, as Thomas Jefferson advised,
as a condiment rather than the main course)
and eating lots more vegetables.
And so our guests
at Turtle Rock Farm
are eating Gazpacho
grilled vegetables with pasta
tapanade made with eggplant and chick peas
corn and black bean salad
wheat salad
lentil salad
potato and green bean salad
pizza with grilled vegetables
fruit sorbets.
We eat many vegetables and herbs from our garden
or the gardens of other Oklahomans
through the Oklahoma Food Coop
or directly from the farmers themselves,
like the honey we get from Everett.
As guests eat fresh vegetables
seasoned with fresh herbs
they exclaim what a joy it is to eat this way
and when they are leaving
after a day or two,
they tell us, “And I feel so healthy!”
There’s not the slightest feeling that they were deprived
or had to sacrifice.
Rather, they have a joyful experience at the table.

One of the books we’ve read recently
is Sharing Food by Shannon Jung.
Our health and Earth’s health
and all of creation’s health
are interdependent, writes Jung.

Our dependence on air, on water, on food, on each other and on God is integral to health and bodily well-being. Acknowledging and living in support of all life is essential to honoring our individual bodies, which are only relatively individual. Our health depends on the health of others. Only for a time could we suppose the validity of ‘apartheid thinking’ whereby one sector of life benefits at another’s expense. Indeed, all life is related. The quality of the air we breathe, the meat or fruit we eat, the chemical content of the water, the life-giving or life-destroying quality of our relationships with others – how could we not suppose that these were part of our health? Rebecca Todd Peters indicates the way a person’s health and communal health are integral to reach other. ‘Post colonials recognize…a moral universe in which individual actions are understood to have communal effect – for good or ill – and in which the well-being of the community is taken into consideration before individual decisions are made.’

The reality of a shalom creation, in which all beings have a role to play in the well-being of each other, and the future goal of restoring such a shalom express a mutuality of interdependence. We are to strive for justice for all because all are God’s beloved creatures. Honoring the body is a way to get in touch with God’s goodness and the sustaining of life.

It is no wonder
that while eating less meat
creates a healthier planet,
our bodies get healthier as well.

Friends in Tulsa
are growing their own vegetables
in their relatively small backyard.
I get messages
of their prodigious harvest:
“Took salad for 20
to neighborhood potluck.”
“The beets are delicious!”
“Twenty tomatoes on one plant!”
The sharing of vegetable counts
and recipes
and happy meals
is no small thing.
What we are really sharing
is the indescribable pleasure
of eating delicious food
we’ve grown ourselves.
It’s indescribable –
only in recipes and vegetable counts and inept adjectives –
because eating food you have grown
is participating in something
deep and meaningful,
mysterious and sacred.
We are participating in something
that seems miraculous:
a tiny tomato seed
and now, Gazpacho!
Participating in something miraculous
that connects us to an unseen system
of creativity and life.
Connecting to an unseen system of life
that results in the warmth and care
of something as intimate
as putting food in the mouth.

Scrumptious food in the mouth:
red-skinned potato
pulled from the loamy earth
cooked until just tender
and while still warm
tossed in cider vinegar and dill,
fresh-picked skinny green beans
cooked into a brighter green
but still crunchy,
red onion plucked from the crusty soil
and chopped finely,
dried tomatoes,
grated parmesan,
olive oil,
salt and pepper.
Served with quarters of Purple Cherokee Tomato,
still warm from the sun.
On the patio,
in the shade of the Hackberry
and the breeze off the pond.
Earth gifts.
Sheer joy.
Life shared.