Category Archives: SAGE Quest

Protecting the Young


October 04, 2014

Protecting the young. Most species are inclined to shelter their young. From the individualness of tree top hawk nests and haystack mouse nests to communities of goat herds, duck flocks, and seal pods, creation cares for its young giving them their best chance to for tomorrow.

Great fear comes in protecting the young. A fair amount of can I do it and do it well settles in as bellies swell. Yet fear of letting go and allowing the young to enter life’s struggle is just as great. Whether it is mother hawk with nestling at nest edge readying for flight or mother human holding a hand waiting for first day school bus, the tension between letting go and protecting, shelves fear in the heart.

Finding the time or place to ease up on protection and allow the young to make their mistakes, and too often know hurt—intellectually, emotionally, physically, spiritually—are hard questions for parent, herd, and flock.

I don’t know how many times an eighteen-year-old at the farm has said, I don’t feel like an adult. As I heard a young man say it again this summer it struck me how the lack of balance between protection and letting go is damaging our young and our community—think of the injustice of an 18-year-old signing up for military service, or voting, or having a beer, who do not think of themselves as an adult. Continue reading

AM Radio Justice


August 24, 2014

It has been a busy summer and like other folks who blog and run a farm, the blog settles down somewhere in the back forty waiting for a moment of rest—often after fall harvest.

Though farm work is busy and there have been more pastoral visits than normal, the summers weeklong SAGE Quest group visits are done. After weeks of folk at the farm, having justice conversations, it seems as if some extra time has popped up (One reoccurring conversation this summer was on time…more about why that last sentence is a bit problematic another day.). So, maybe a little more time for writing and a regular blog entry are in the future, but I miss those daily conversations with visitors that often got a bit edgy.

A conversation arose last month due to a public radio announcement. When SAGE groups are around I keep the farm truck radio set to an AM country station. Two reasons. You get a taste of local culture and a taste of rural justice. Many folk visit the farm thinking country music a bit backwards. However, by having the radio set to an AM station, playing older country music (because it is an AM station), I get to point to the justice of musicians like Guy Clark and bring about a reconsideration—Like many rural folk in my landscape who don’t understand Hip-Hop culture and the justice of much Rap music, neither do many non-rural folk grasp the justice many country musicians (though let’s be truthful and say both have a fair amount of junk).

So, the conversation happened like this. I’m on the road Tuesday, mid-morning, with two youth in the pickup. We were heading for Noah’s Ark, the areas only homeless shelter. We’re three miles from the farm, turning north onto South Wapato Road and an announcement comes over the radio, “It is illegal for drivers to give to panhandlers at busy intersections in Yakima.” Continue reading

Of Roofs, Horses, Vino, and Sleep

August 28, 2012

Roofs are different from walls.  No kidding?! Yeah, I know, not much of an insight.  However, when framing moves from walls to roof a whole new perspective comes about, for most of the work is in the air…or at least eight feet off the ground.  And hanging out above the ground has mattered to homebuilders and the homes residents for a long time.

Roofs are often multifunctional.  Their basic function is to keep weather out of the home.  But roofs also do well as a place to check out the surrounding countryside.  If you take the time to climb up on the roof of your home you will find a wonderful place to quite down and experience the world from a perspective you cannot get any other way.  Of course, if it is a pitched roof, be careful!  Then again, even if it is not pitched and lies flat as a board, be careful!

Unlike walls, roofs carry a certain amount of danger.  If you, or anyone for that matter, fall off, someone is going to get hurt.  This reality is probably why the earliest building codes don’t talk about walls but they do about roofs.  For instance, you can find an early building code on roofs in the Hebrew Bible, “When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof; otherwise you might have bloodguilt on your house, if anyone should fall from it.”(Deut. 22vs8)  Unlike the pitched roof being built in White Swan, in some areas, roofs are additional living space.  Today, as well as ancient Deuteronomic times, roofs also provide space for eating, socializing, and sleeping.  It makes sense on a flat roof to build little wall (parapet) around the edges of the roof to keep people on top…should teenagers horse around a little too much, the neighbor have a little too much vino, or dad rolls around a little too much in his sleep (Imagine falling off your bed if it is a roof!).

So, as the roof goes up we become aware that building codes matter, safety matters, and the creation of a home does lead to a place where our children can horse around, our neighbors can have a glass of vino, and our families can sleep well.

Walled Feelings

August 27, 2012

When the walls are finally framed, up, squared and plumb a feeling settles in on the jobsite.  Everyone knows they are experiencing something old and new.  Walls still have the smell of freshly cut lumber, and folk are nursing newly busted thumbs and fingers—thumbs have a blue tinge that anywhere other than underneath a thumbnail might be thought of as pretty, newly embedded splinters, and new cuts that when washed that evening will have to start healing all over again.  Yet for all the damage, everyone looks at a set of walls and knows they are part of something very very old.

For as long as any of us can remember, including our collective ancient memory, having shelter matters, and being able to create that shelter matters even more.  Looking at walls—wood, stone, or hide—have always instilled a since of wellbeing, for shelter from wind, rain, snow, or sun, means survival.  We may not all be carpenters, but somewhere deep in every one of us is knowledge we must have shelter and it is from such knowledge a feeling wells up when we see walls rising up out of the earth.

The new wall feeling is enhanced when we know our shelter is confirmed and these walls will give protection to one of our neighbors.  Such caring of neighbor and the corresponding feeling of wellbeing probably has something to do with why some folk can tell stories about participating with their parents and their grandparents in a barn raising or a home build.  If you feel it is time for you or you and your children or you and your parents to begin a legacy of helping neighbors obtain a home, come out to White Swan, Washington over Labor Day weekend and help build a home for a single father and daughter—your presence is welcomed!  (Contact David at for more information.)

Volunteering: Active-Theology

Framing The Lemus Home (Destroyed by Fire February 2011)

August 25, 2012

Volunteering is a word used to present an idea of caring.  However, it is not always adequate to relate what is really happening.  Showing up and offering free tutoring, being a foster grandparent, ladling soup at a kitchen or helping distribute food at a food bank is volunteering.  However, when such work is tied to faith it is more than volunteering, it becomes active-theology.

Active-theology is an intentional theology.  One cannot fall into it accidentally.  Rather, active-theology is a choice.  When the writer of the Gospel of Mark tells his story, he images Jesus’ intentional movement to active-theology.  Jesus begins his theology much as he had experienced growing-up, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.”  Jesus had healed a few folk by now, but the tie of healing to proclamation was yet to occur.  A leper, one who society held at arm’s length, changes that when he hunts Jesus down and says, “If you choose, you can make me clean.”  The leper asks Jesus to risk his theology with his word of choice.  Jesus is asked to choose to move beyond the healing of those who are like him and his friends, to move beyond societies acceptable healing, and reach a hand out to one whom society holds as other—as one who does not matter.  When Jesus takes the risk of alienating friend, neighbor, and family by saying, “I do choose.  Be made clean!” and touches the leper, a paradigm shift occurs and Jesus intellectual theology becomes active-theology.  Active-theology makes a practical difference for it intentionally feeds the poor, houses the homeless, and welcomes the alienated.

An opportunity for active-theology occurs next weekend.  Thanks to active-theology volunteers, a home will be ready next weekend (Labor Day weekend—Friday thru Monday) for siding, roofing, and maybe some painting.  If you would like to actively explore your theology, join others doing the same in White Swan!  Contact David at for more information.

Body At Work

August 24, 2012

A cool thing happens when you volunteer, more than once.  You begin to create family.  For instance, as framing began on the Coburn Loop Home (2011fire destroyed home) Rita returned and it was like a homecoming.  Rita and her children had dug footings and plumbing trenches weeks earlier and now here she is again!  Some might say, “Only weeks ago and you’re already calling her family?”  Well, yes, partially because more than a decade of working with volunteers has made it apparent, at least to me, they are the part of the body that does physical work.  Nothing wrong with the head and intellect, but when the foot and hand get going they just know they are related.  There is no need to reason it out, for in the dust of the ground, the dust of the saw, and the sweat of the brow family is known.