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Explorations in Just Living

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Welcome to the blog of the Enough for Everyone program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). By "just living" we mean both justice-based living and just simply living – freeing ourselves from the clutter of stuff so we can focus on living faithfully and living well. Join us in the exploration!

About the Author
Bryce Wiebe coordinates Enough for Everyone, a ministry of the Presbyterian Hunger Program. He loves slow food and is fascinated by the way things are made.  He is excited to dive into experiments in simplicity with you.  His sacred cow of consumption: kitchen gadgets.

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February 10, 2014

Mud

Rev. Dennis Dewey

Renown Biblical Storyteller

Pastor, Stone Presbyterian Church, Clinton, NY


I was asked to make a list of words and phrases that came to mind as I reflected on my time staying with a coffee farming family in the mountains of Boaco, Nicaragua, and then to pick one of those words or phrases and just write non-stop—whatever came to mind. This is what I wrote.

 

The mud. It was the mud.

 

The mud is what I see on first approach to the remote farmhouse that I will be calling home for a couple days and nights. The mud: disgusting. The mud is my fear of what I will encounter. It is my discomfort, my dis-ease, my nightmare—slipping, falling, getting dirty, filthy. No escape. No way around it.

 

Making my way through (squishing my way through), I arrive at the porch, then into the main room of the house to deposit my sleeping mat and blanket there (will I have to sleep in the mud?), only to realize that I have tracked mud into my hosts’ home while my companions have thoughtfully removed their muddy shoes on the porch. Now I am embarrassed. Now the mud is also my shame. The panic has not abated, the terror of being sucked into the muddy abyss and so far out of my comfort zone. (My comfort zone is a very small place.) I know that I came in here in part deliberately to move out of it, but I had not anticipated the mud as my welcome mat. The mud is my enemy. Mud, mud, mud, mud, mud.

 

But then comes the introductions, the orientations, the recalibration, the internal voice reminding me, “I can do this.” One thing at time. One day at a time. One passage through the mud at a time.

 

I am so grateful for Larry’s fluency in Spanish, for Bryce’s gentle presence, for Frank’s playful teasing with his second-language English. Mostly I am grateful for the humor of these three fellows whose good cheer is redemptive, cleansing. They supplant my fears with other associations: mud wrestling, mud pies, muddy buddies, your name is Mudd, Fudd and cud. They are greasing the skids with mud, glorious mud! They are not blood brothers but mud brothers—a band of brothers, this fraternity in mud. We are marching in the mud of God, we are marching in the mud of God, and neither life nor death nor angels nor principalities nor height nor depth nor mud will ever be able to separate us from the love of God.

 

The host family live with the mud, live alongside the mud. They are of the mud. It is their world. They know that God made us from the mud of the earth and breathed into us that divine breath that animates us still—the breath of Frank’s snoring, the breath that carries Larry’s bad jokes, the breath that powers Bryce’s singing, the breath that fills this place and scents itself with the wood smoke of this family’s kitchen.

 

God so loved the mud that God gave me this. Therefore I shall not fear though the mountains tremble in the midst of the mud. Thanks be to God for this. Thanks be to God for all of this. Mud and all. Amen.

Categories: Enough for Everyone, Fair trade, Nicaragua

Tags: coffee, delegation, dennis dewey, fair trade, nicaragua


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