Abundance and justice
Today is our last in our One series. Today we take one bowl and one spoon and use these to pray.
I remember my first trip to Hawkes Bay. I was about 8 years old and we went to a family wedding. I remember being so excited driving over the Taupo Road towards Hawkes Bay and the twin cities of Napier and Hastings. I must have been told that Hawkes Bay was the fruitbowl of New Zealand. As a fruit loving child these words filled by imagination. What would a fruitbowl for the whole of New Zealand look like and more what would it taste like? As we drove I could see the abundance in my mind and I couldn’t wait to see it in real life. I recall my parents bought me a touristy colouring book and I coloured in fruit to my hearts content, imagining what two cities with the responsibility of growing fruit for the country would look like in real life. I imagined baskets full of fruit and trees growing along the roadsides where you could pick as much as you wanted. I imagined people walking around, handing out fruit to random strangers. I think the anticipation was something akin to what some children might feel about going to Disneyland. Hawkes Bay did not disappoint in our chance to taste fruit, although it didn’t quite look like I’d imagined.
Fast forward a few years and trips to Hawkes Bay became a ritual multiple times a year to see my husband’s parents and extended family in Hastings. My mother in law had so many different recipes for cooking with apricots or apples. If we were visiting in the right season she’d know which nearby orchard to send us to for the stone or pipfruit. Local restaurants served dishes made with fresh produce and my father in law would always take us out to a new place he’d discovered since our last visit. Whenever we’d visit Hastings we’d always include a visit to the honey shop in Havelock North to buy fresh pour your own honey. Even though we no longer have family to visit in the bay, a trip to the fruit bowl of New Zealand is not complete without visits to orchards, wineries, berry gardens and markets.
The fruitbowl of New Zealand marketing campaign of the 1970s had a pretty effective impact on me. I’m not sure if it’s ‘the’ fruitbowl of New Zealand but for me it’s certainly one of them. Many of my holidays around the country have celebrated produce and finding other fruitbowls and vegetable hampers. A trip to Central Otago in the South Island in the summer wouldn’t be complete without buying apricots and picking cherries. A trip to Kerikeri has to include drinking freshly squeezed orange juice and bringing home Kerikeri oranges and avocados. Driving past the red fields of Pukekohe in the South of Auckland must include stopping at a roadside stall to buy seasonal vegetables like potatoes or a bunch of coriander. I feel truly blessed to live in a country with such abundance.
There is something wonderful about abundance that can fill us with delight. Abundance also comes with responsibility. As an 8 year old I had no notion of food insecurity or responsibility. If there were people going hungry I didn’t know them. My world was safe and there was always food in our pantry and on our table. And with our country having row upon row of orchards and farms and market gardens, the idea that there might not be enough food to go around and that people were hungry, would have made no sense to me then. With the benefit of years, I do now know about food insecurity. But to be honest, the idea of people going without food, makes as much sense to me as it would have to my 8 year old self, especially when we live in a land of abundance. How can it be that some of us have food on our tables and others go without?
But you must defend
those who are helpless
and have no hope.
Be fair and give justice
to the poor and homeless.
Proverbs 31:8-9 (CEV)
I have just finished listening to Braiding Sweet Grass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Her thoughts have influenced my thinking in today’s prayers using a bowl and a spoon. Here’s a quote from an interview with her from edgeeffects.net
The actual phrase of the bowl with one spoon or one bowl, one spoon is an important concept in the Haudenosaunee [also known as the Iroquois] in upstate NY. It’s also manifest in our Potowatami ways. The “one bowl, one spoon” is really a powerful metaphor that helps us think about the earth. That’s the bowl, this wonderful round bowl with berries and fish and water—all the things that we humans need. But it’s one bowl and it’s bounded. So the idea of the one bowl that we all are fed from, the earth—that bowl is finite. So when it is empty, it’s empty. It’s our responsibility to keep it full, so that everyone can be fed. Everyone is not just people though, it’s all the beings of creation. So how we do ensure that the one bowl lasts us? It’s because there’s one spoon. We all eat from the same bowl, and we all use the same spoon. I think it’s a powerful metaphor for justice—that there isn’t a little bitty teaspoon for some people and a great big ladle for other people. These gifts of the earth are shared with us by Shkaakmikwe, Mother Earth. - Robin Wall Kimmerer
Here’s my offering of prayers in response to these thoughts.
May our God of abundance and justice be with you in the week ahead.
On the journey
One Bowl Prayer
Hold an empty bowl in your hands. Think of the bowl as the earth. Think of the food grown all over the world that we eat so we can survive and thrive. Take a few moments to think of the food you’ve eaten in the last few days. Where did it come from? Where was it grown? Who filled your bowl? Pray one sentence or one word prayers of gratitude to God for the nourishment that has come your way from the bowl. Ponder what part you play in keeping the food bowl of the earth filled. Turn these thoughts into a responsive prayer to God.
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