Fruits of the Earth, Fruits of Community

Principal Maylanne Maybee writes:

I have spent the last week in two very different places and climates.

From Wednesday to Sunday, I stayed with Phina Borgeson, a friend and fellow deacon in Santa Rosa, California as a base for leading a retreat for about a dozen deacons and others “in process” for becoming a deacon.  The nights and the mornings were cool, but the in the heat of the day, the thermometer soared to 105F (40C)!

California grapes and wine
garden tomatoes ripening

The Friday-Saturday retreat was held at a rustic place called Four Springs, which suffered a devastating fire recently so was only in partial operation. My friend Phina did all the food prep – using fruit and vegetables from her garden and from her “gleaning” project where she works with volunteers to pick and gather unused produce from farms and private homes. (They are strictly forbidden to take fruit from the ground where it might be in contact with animal waste and insect life and the risk of E. coli contamination.)

The rest of the menu came from local sources. It was a retreat of companionship, prayer, reflection, and feasting!

On Monday, I traveled by bus and air to the Banff Centre in Alberta, to begin a Leadership Development Course called “Centered Leadership: When Remarkable Women Lead.”

The Banff Centre, Banff, AB

I am part of a group of about 12 women who come from small and large non-profit and public sector organizations from Montreal to Edmonton, here to deepen their awareness and practice to exercise good leadership. Most participants as well as the four facilitators are in their forties or early fifties so I’m enjoying the youthful energy. Yesterday the temperature dipped below freezing and it snowed!

One of the links between these two places and experiences is the food – local to the extent possible, pleasing to the eye and palate, lovingly prepared, shared in community. Simple gifts, simple joys.

I write this on the eve of Thanksgiving when we give thanks for the fruits of the earth. These two experiences of hospitality, one personal and one more institutional, are nevertheless both opportunities to enjoy the delight of good eating and rich community. The recent recall of Alberta beef products over E. coli concerns is a reminder of the fragility of this gift and the consequences of expanding our communities to a global scale.

CCS is preparing for another kind of Thanksgiving – for 120 years of growth, change, transformation, and continuity. My prayer is that as you celebrate with friends and families, you will enjoy safe and nourishing food, and then join the wider CCS community, in person or in spirit, to give thanks for the gifts of learning and community that all of us have enjoyed in different ways over the years.