Garden Windows.

24 02 2011

Earlier in the year, our teammate Becky had the brilliant idea to make a series of window pieces with photo transparencies affixed inside the frames as a dual tribute to and enhancement of the life flourishing within our neighborhood community garden. Despite several false starts over the past several months as Janis Bernard (the garden overseer) and I (Kate) tried to figure out the most aesthetically pleasing spatial orientation and installation method for the garden windows, we finally hit the jackpot this Tuesday afternoon. Just as we (Matt, the Bernards and I) finished digging the holes for the feet of the frame, leveling them out in the uneven ground and mixing the dry concrete with water around the base of our temporary support pieces, the sun tipped over the top of the Houston skyline behind the garden. It shone through the transparencies in a golden spill of light that made each of us stop in awe… and it was good.

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
— Mary Oliver


Benches: Installed.

11 02 2011

After several false attempts, we (Matt, Zach, Carter and I — Kate) finally but most successfully installed our pew-to-bench pieces in the neighborhood yesterday — and it may or may not have been one of the happiest moments of my month so far.

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and…
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
— T.S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday

Benediction for 1/9/11

11 01 2011

[Ecclesia worship services end with a Benediction, either read from Scripture or written by a church member. I was asked to write one for this Sunday. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out, but a lot of people were moved by it. Be blessed. -Matt]

Blessed are you who share not crumbs but a seat at the table.

Blessed are you who have nothing yet give.

Blessed are you who threw away reputation to sit with the outsider

Blessed are the foolish in generosity.

Blessed are you who saw the image of God in me.

Blessed are you who bind your humanity with mine, and say, “I am because we are.”

Blessed are those show see heaven descend to earth today.

First Ward Community Garden.

11 01 2011

This past Saturday, Nicole, Carter, Matt, Becky and I (Kate) headed to some green space in our neighborhood, a corner plot sandwiched between shotgun homes and the downtown skyline, in order to spend a few life-giving hours in dirt and vegetation with a delightfully motley crew of fellow neighbors and gardeners. As Wendell Berry muses, “We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.”

So Much More than Functional.

6 01 2011

What do red birds, dusty pews, power tools, sheet music, stiff paintbrush bristles and splinters all have in common? The answer is held together in a simple yet creative display of woodwork: benches. Earlier in the year, several of us (Matt, Becky and I — Kate) stumbled across a pile of abandoned pews in the unlikely treasure trove that is Houston’s Reuse Warehouse, a holding place for reusable bits and pieces from estate sales, construction sites and the like. One short trailer ride and several sneezes later, we unloaded two of the ungainly pews into an empty space behind Ecclesia and descended upon them with screwdriver, hammer and drill in hand. Over the next several days, we proceeded to:

– strip off a set of hideously uncomfortable cushions in a visible cloud of dust
– wrestle rusty nails out of their stubborn holds in the scratched wood
–  saw each of the pews in half in order to assemble two new, whole creations from the separate quarters
–  attack them with the whining power of a belt-operated sander
– file down pointy screw ends by hand
–  drill holes for newer, stronger bolts
– attach sturdier sides and support pieces
– cover the sanded wood with several coats of fresh paint
– add a few layers of varnish
– and finally adorn the final product with unique touches, including musical notes and bird silhouettes

At one point in the bench-making process, we had an audience of three or four homeless friends who alternately called out joking comments on our handling of the power tools, gave encouraging words of positive feedback regarding our paint choices, and even provided offers of help — which we gladly took them up on, of course. Whether or not we end up installing the recycled pew-to-bench creations at a bus stop, a taco truck or a nearby park, they are sure to add an extra dose of color and creativity to the preexistent community flair in the First Ward and we can’t wait until neighbors take us up on the invitation to “come and rest your weary sole.”