Mar 24 2011

Living in the Peaceable Kingdom

Each Thursday during Lent, I offer a vegan recipe as I learn to cook and like vegetables, and as I contemplate what it means to live non-violently.

In my heart, I’m a shieldmaiden of Rohan.

In the third Lord of the Rings movie, when Eowyn confronts the Witch King in battle, standing between the beast and her father, my heart pounds.

The Witch King taunts her, “You fool. No man can kill me. Die now.”

Eowyn pulls off her helmet and cries, “I am no man!” stabbing the the creature that has rained down death and destruction upon so many.

When I first saw the scene on opening night, a loud cry escaped my lips. (I don’t tend to make noise in movie theaters.)  But I wasn’t alone. The entire theater erupted in whoops and shouts and applause.

I’ve seen it countless times now, but it never fails to stir up a sense of power and fierceness and rightness in me that I rarely experience in daily life.  And I wish I could experience it more often.

My response to this scene has been one of the main reasons I’ve never considered myself a pacifist.

Of course, one could say that the Witch King, as evil incarnate, is the proper recipient of Eowyn’s battle rage.

But as I began reflecting on my reaction to the scene and praying about how to reconcile it with the part of me that is broken-hearted by the violence and the destruction of life, God brought a question to mind:

If I lived in a world without violence, where peace was not defined by the absence of violence, but a richer, deeper experience of peaceful life that had only itself as the reference point, how different would my personality be? How different would the world be?

The Kingdom of which Jesus gives us a glimpse is our world almost unrecognizably transformed, its DNA reordered so that love and peace are not defined as opposites of hate and war, but only with reference to themselves.  Christ loves us with this kind of Love–a Love whose reference point and definition is God’s very being.

A world of Shalom, life transfigured with peace and health and wholeness.

Being a shieldmaiden of Rohan would have no meaning in such a world.

It’s truly impossible to imagine.  I can only catch it faintly out of the corner of my eye. But that’s okay. Just trying to imagine it fills me with wonder and hope and trust. It also fills me with a sense of anticipation: who Christ is forming us to be will be both the same, yet different than who we are now at some level, because how we define ourselves will change as the world is transformed.

And every time we love another as Christ has loved us, something happens that is more powerful, more fierce, more right than Eowyn’s triumph over the Witch King. The shalom of the Kingdom is near. The world is healed.

Then the heart of Éowyn changed…’I will be a shieldmaiden no longer, nor vie with the great Riders, nor take joy…in the songs of slaying. I will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren.’



Few weeks go by when this soup is not on the menu at the Contemplative Cottage. Originally based on a recipe from Molly Wizenberg’s food blog, Orangette, I’ve made some changes, adding chickpeas to raise the protein content, as well as making it vegan.

Red Lentil and Chickpea Soup

4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large yellow onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
Pinch of cayenne or more to taste
2 quarts vegetable broth
2 cups red lentils

1 14-oz can chickpeas

Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste

In a large pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Add the onions and garlic and cook until golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook for 4 minutes longer. Add the broth, 2 cups water, the lentils, and the chickpeas. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue to cook until the lentils are soft, about 40 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice.

Dec 6 2010

Sword Fighting


Sometimes I’m sure I rattle when I walk or think or talk or simply stand, paralyzed.

Chains, binding and heavy, clank about me.  Doubt. Worry. Fear. Sadness.

I read about children in Ethiopia, whose home is a pile a trash, who drink rain water that collects among the garbage and eat whatever they can scavenge.  I pace my apartment, feeling the weight. I read the article and unmistakable rattling echoes under the words. My heart hurts. All is not well. The chains are not only on me, but on the world.

Clanking and whispers. What good can an easily-tired introvert do?

I can pray. Love and pray. For the children, for people who can go and give homes and food and water and love. For the strength to do something myself.

Amid the whispers and rattling, I wish I had one of those awesome magic swords like in the stories I love.  High King Peter’s Rhindon. The Sword of Griffyndor. Frodo’s Sting. Arthur’s Excalibur.  With it, I would go to work breaking the chains that bind, myself, the children, the world.

Clank, rattle. Those swords don’t exist.


Then, suddenly, surprising me, my thoughts change. A real sword breaks a chain, out of the blue.  Snap!

“Take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Eph 6:17)


Jesus answered Satan’s temptations with scripture as he fasted in the desert (Luke 4:1-13). So today, I pray Ephesians 1:16-23 for you, me, and the world:

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give us a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we may know what is the hope to which he has called us, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Jesus, may we live the power of love you have given us. May we hear the sound of chains breaking.


In gratitude today for…

The Word of God and the words of Ephesians.

The bible found in the garbage by one of the Ethiopian children, and his ability to read it and share the Word with others. A person threw away the Word of God and God used it!

For the YWAM team who visited the children and brought help. For the photographer who makes these young faces real and present to me thousands of miles away.

God’s faithfulness as I wrestle with words to write.

Tim Dearborn’s sermon of hope yesterday.

Advent wreath making at Holiday Magic.

Reconnecting with my friend Amy.

Watching young Jack create a aluminum foil suit of armor so he can play High King Peter.

Music, especially “Of the Father’s Love Begotten.”

holy experience

Jan 19 2009

Word of the Day: Justice

Women Singing Earth by Mary Southard, CSJ

Women Singing Earth by Mary Southard, CSJ

Martin Luther King, Jr, quoted Amos, saying: “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

What is justice?

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus describes his vocation to justice when speaking in the synagogue: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Often justice and “prophet” are put together–the people who take a stand against injustice and call for change. A connection that is not often made is that of “prophet” and “artist,” but Hans Urs von Balthasar, a Roman Catholic theologian, suggested that the vocation of prophet and artist are intimately united. The prophet-artist, while prophetically calling for justice, can creatively paint a picture, weave words or use other mediums of expression that inspires people with a new vision. The prophet-artist uses their own hope–their very life–as the medium for crafting an image of a transformed future. When I listen to MLK’s “I have a dream” speech, I am caught up in his hope–his words and his life richly enfleshed his prophetic call for justice and hope for change.

What is your vision of justice? What is one vision that engages your heart and the heart of your community? Maybe it is racial reconciliation, an end to hunger and economic justice, humane health care, a future without human trafficking, earth stewardship, or educational opportunities for all children. Describe it as richly as possible–paint it, cook, write, or sing it. How do you already embody this vision of hope in your daily life? What are other ways? Share your vision with your family, with your children, with your friends and ask them for ideas.

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