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He Walked - A Guest Post from Daniel K. MacDonald

Today's post is  from my friend,  Daniel K. MacDonald the curate at St. Anne's in the Field's Episcopal Church in Lincoln, MA.  Religion is not normally a part of this blog, but I asked Daniel if I could share his essay because it is rich with images of walking, both literal and metaphorical.  The first time I read it, I appreciated the way it made me look at stories I'd heard a hundred times, through a new lens. Whether you're religious, spiritual or agnostic, I think there's something in here for you.

 

Jesus walked.  I mean, Jesus walked a lot.  Sure, he took an occasional boat ride across the Sea of Galilee, and of course, he rode on a donkey during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem but mostly, almost exclusively, he walked.  Walking from one town to another, from one region to the next.  That was the life of the itinerant prophet, the traveling teacher, the marginal 1st century Jew: walking.

But also, talking.  When Jesus walked, he attracted a crowd, and a dialogue ensued.  Jesus almost always walked with others.  Picture Jesus walking around Judea in the midst of a throng of curious followers: this is a defining image of the New Testament.  So many Gospel stories consist of Jesus teaching or healing after arriving - that is, having walked - to a new place.  Sometimes Jesus' fellow walkers were few in number.  In the story of the Transfiguration, Jesus takes a mere three - Peter, and James  and John - up the mountain.  But in other places, the Gospels describe crowds beyond number, as when Jesus had to get into a boat to teach, because his listeners were so many.

Whether few or many in number, walking with others invites conversation, as much today as it did for Jesus and his followers.  Something about walking opens us up to those with whom we are traveling.  Yet walking in company is also a space for silence and private reflection, a time to simply take in one's surroundings, God's good creation.

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On October 20th, 11 youth and 6 adults from St. Anne's walked together for 7 kilometers through crisp fall air and beneath many a bejewelled oak, raising money for hunger relief through the Concord Crop Walk.  The weather was glorious, but more importantly, we used the shared experience of going somewhere together to open ourselves up to our teammates who were walking the way with us. We walked and talked and laughed and shared and questioned, much as the first followers of Jesus must have done in the Judean countryside all those centuries ago.  Walking invites openness, and 7 kilometers after we began, with the finish line in sight, we all knew each other better than we had at the beginning.

We are happy to report that St. Anne's raised $1,655 for the Concord Crop Walk. Thank you to everyone who donated monet for this important effort.  If you did not support the Crop Walk, we still welcome your contribution.

But beyond the Crop Walk, God is inviting us on another walk.  Come walk this year with the people of St. Anne's to go deeper in faith, deeper in the life of our growing, thriving parish.  Actual walking can be a great spiritual resource, as we see from Jesus in the Gospels.  But we can walk spiritually, too, as a community of faith that is going somewhere.  Opportunities for spiritual growth and community engagement abound at our church this year.  So come, join the good people at St. Anne's as we follow Jesus, wherever he is walking next.

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Have Snacks, Will Walk

I've printed my donation page, charged up the iPod, checked the weather, and now all that I have left to do before tomorrow's Walk for Hunger is pack a couple snacks.  There will be plenty of food available along tomorrow's route, both at tents set up for the event and in shops we'll pass along the way, but I'm trying to be smarter about what I eat, so bringing something from home is the way to go.

Last summer, in the middle of a discussion about fences (we were on a walk at the time) Z, my partner, asked if I'd like a dehydrator.   I gave him a confused smile and said I had no idea what I would do with one.  "OK.  They sell dried pears at my work, and it seemed like something you'd like to make" he replied.  I was intrigued, but still resistant to adding another gadget to our kitchen.  Not long afterward I read Didi Emmons' book Wild Flavors, saw what she does with a dehydrator and knew I wanted one.

I've done a lot of experimenting with my dehydrator, but my current favorite things to make are dried pears (yes, Z knows me well) and fruit leather.  To me, biting into a piece of fruit is a gamble.  Will it be mealy, rubbery, squoosh like a worm or or make my eyes water?  It's hard to know until it's actually on my tongue, exactly where I don't want something on its way to rotten to be.  So, I tend to buy fruit, think about eating it, then feed it to my compost bin.  I don't feel good about it, but it's what I do.  The dehydrator solves this because it lets me take fruit that is over ripe (which I won't eat) and turn it into something sweet, healthy and consistently firm.  My idea of the perfect fruit.

 

Died Pears

  • Wash the pears.  I usually do 6-8 at a time to fill my dehydrator.  The number will vary depending on your dehydrator's size.
  • Chop into slices roughly 1/4" thick.  Some people peel them first since the skin will turn slightly brown, but then you lose fiber and probably some vitamins as well, so I leave the peel on.
  • (Optional) Toss slices in a bowl with lemon or lime juice.  This keeps the pears from turning brown, but I often skip it since it adds a slight citrus flavor to the finished product.
  • Place in the dehydrator  with room around each slice for the air to move. 
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  • "Cook" until dry to the touch with just a little bit of give.  I like to put them in before going to bed.  They're usually just right when I get up in the morning.
  • If you leave them in too long, don't worry.  Just call them fruit chips and enjoy the crunch.

 Fruit Leather

There appears to be no end to the possible variations of fruit leather.  And unlike my childhood memories of failed sun-dried fruit leather, using the dehydrator the process is nearly fail proof. 

  • In a medium size pot pour 1/4 cup water or juice.  Heat on medium.
  • Add fruit (see below)
  • Stir occasionally.  Cook roughly 15 minutes or until fruit is soft.
  • Puree the fruit.  This is easier with an immersion blender, but a regular blender will do the trick.
  • Spray Pam (or similar product) on fruit leather tray - these came with my dehydrator
  • Pour the puree onto the trays.  Spread to make an even layer roughly 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick
  • "Cook" until dry to the touch.  I find it takes about 6 hours.
  • Rip or cut into pieces and store in an air tight container.  On the rare occasion it isn't gobbled up in a day, I've had it stay good for several weeks.

Flavor combos:

  • Mixed frozen berries
  • Grapes (1 bunch) and apples (3)
  • Pears (6) with a dash of cinnamon and cardamom
  • I'm experimenting with fruit/vegetable mixes.  I'll let you know if I find one I like

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For my final snack tomorrow, I'm bringing something I've never tried before.  Amanda Blake-Soule, author of several books and the SouleMama blog is making this the year of popcorn.  Each month she posts a different topping recipe.  Creating a new popcorn topping is actually on my To Do list for life (I'm serious), so I've read Amanda's posts with a big smile on my face.  I finally found the nutritional yeast necessary for her Cheesy Herb Popcorn recipe, so I'll cook that up tomorrow morning, just before the walk.  I have a feeling the results will be messy, so the great outdoors seems like the perfect place to give it a try.  

Here are links to other walk friendly foods I've posted in the past: 


Project Bread Walk for Hunger May 5th

Project Bread is an incredible organization here in Boston, that takes a multifaceted approach to hunger.  There are breakfast programs at schools, lunch programs during the summer, efforts to get local fruits and vegetables at a reasonable price into those sections of the city considered a food desert. 

I'll be participating in their annual fund raising walk this Sunday.  Can you make a donation?  Even $10 makes a difference .  There's an expression I recently learned,  "It takes drops to fill a bucket."  Can you provide a drop or two? Walk for Hunger Donation Page

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A New Day in Boston

A week has passed since bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon. 

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So much has been said and written about the events of that day and the days that followed.

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So much compassion, misery, determination and bravery has been shared.

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What can I add to the discussion?

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I can tell you about people in Boston who know violence, who know it first hand, and have refused to let it break them.  I can tell you about people who during this troubled week have reached out to the suffering with acupuncture and counseling.

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I can introduce you to the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute which aims to "transform pain and anger to power and action."  The Peace Institute works every day, here in Boston, with people whose lives have been changed by homicide.

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The Peace Institute works in communities, in schools, in the halls of the statehouse to change attitudes, to teach new skills, to simply stated, stop the violence.

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 On Sunday, May 12th the Peace Institute will hold its annual Mother's Walk for Peace in Dorchester.  This event is a chance to stand with those who have lost loved ones through violence and send a message to our politicians and community leaders that we need to work together to achieve peace.

You can sign up for the walk or make a donation to the Peace Institute at http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/index.html

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