On Trusting God’s Plan | Reflections by Fellow Sam McCorkle '18

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Sitting in the comfort of Lone Light Coffee, sweetly perfumed by the pie shop sharing its tenancy, an idea I heard plenty about began making sense to me—God’s plan. I was meeting with Reggie, the mentor with whom I was paired through the Horizon Fellows program, for the first time. Reggie, although small in stature, is an impressive man. He is a career counselor at the University of Virginia’s Data Science Institute, an active member in Charlottesville’s young adult Christian community, a loyal friend, and now my mentor. As he opened up about his experiences, I was beyond impressed how a man his age has lived such an interesting life. Interesting for reasons like his extensive networking skills—which have, for instance, allowed him to see one of my favorite bands at an intimate house concert in my hometown—as well as the amount he has traveled. And not just for work. He intentionally plans visits to see his many friends and family located across the country and globe. He is a genuine delight to talk to and our conversation on this hot May afternoon was wonderful.

As an eager undergrad unsure of his future, I was curious about how someone like Reggie was so calm and trusting with whatever came his way. As if God heard my thoughts, my mentor entertained my curiosity by sharing about how he came to Charlottesville. For him, it was a bold move full of uncertainty, but he described it in a way I can simply paraphrase as trusting in God’s plan for him. I have heard this idea of God’s plan before, but there is something transformative about hearing a firsthand experience explained with the kind of confidence achieved only through practice. The practice of trusting what God is going to throw at you next.

“Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:21-22

Fast forward a few weeks later. After hearing the wisdom Reggie offered, which I was still ruminating on, I was now in a foreign environment for the entire summer. This was daunting for me. About six weeks in to my summer, however, my outlook shifted. The catalyst for this change was a new friend and mentor, Bill. Bill, a few years older than Reggie, has a wonderful wife, four kids, and an incredible career teaching high school Latin. Conversations with Bill are on par with counseling, as I am able to speak my mind free of judgment. He has the rare gift of making you feel heard and loved, as well as the wisdom to instill a sense of direction in you. Our one-on-one talks every week were my favorite part of the summer. It was during our early conversations about Henri Nouwen’s book Life of the Beloved when I began to internalize what it meant to trust in God’s plan.

What is funny to me about Nouwen’s book is that he wrote it with the intention of helping his non-Christian friend, Fred, and other secular minds, understand the deep spiritual love Christians experience from God. Perhaps to Nouwen’s dismay, Fred reported to Nouwen that the book was wonderful…but not what he expected. Fred described the book as “for the converted” and that is exactly what it has become; a simply put and popular conceptualization for understanding who we are—the Beloved children of God. Regardless of the book’s intentions and reputation, I ate up every word of it. At the heart of the book is the idea that God is calling us His Beloved and we must follow that voice. And this voice is everywhere. It is in our families, relationships, studies, church, and conversations with friends or strangers. It is that “voice” that tells us we are worth it, we are special, we are chosen. I cannot begin to do the book much justice, so all I will further say is that Nouwen’s understanding of God’s love for us pushed me to search for voices in my life that call me Beloved and subsequently make me feel special. Cliché, probably, but when I linked this message with trusting God’s plan, the idea of having God in my life became practical for the first time.

Heading into my fourth year, I remembered how enthralling Reggie’s story was. Although everything for him seemed well-directed and planned, there was that spice of invited uncertainty that I admired and yearned for. Incapable of grasping on to the future’s unknown, I am often frustrated with the thought of what comes next. Given all of this, and the fact that my fourth year would be marked by discerning post-graduation plans, I sought a way to mitigate the fear of the unknown in order to welcome it as a necessary part of my life. I merged the ideas I had been pondering since May to realize that following the voice of God calling me Beloved is synonymous with trusting God’s plan. Though it is unlikely I will ever have an “aha!” moment when I figure out my calling, I am learning to trust God’s voice more than my own these days. 

Mystery & Doubt. Reflections by Horizons Fellow Ben Noble '18

“No one gets a 100 on the quiz. No one.”

I sank back into a chair in my advisor’s office on a Thursday afternoon during my Third Year. “No one gets a 100 on the quiz.” My advisor’s words echoed in my mind and hit like a truck. Still, I knew that they were true. He and I had been discussing religion, death, the afterlife—light conversation for a late-August day.

Over the past year, I had been trying to make sense of a faith that no longer felt feasible to me. The months leading up to that conversation with my advisor had been characterized by struggle and skepticism. I had quit going to church. I had stopped praying. I had put Henri Nouwen on the bookshelf and picked up Christopher Hitchens instead.

Retrospectively, a lot of my doubt was born out of emotional resentment. At the time, I felt like I had been hurt by Christians. In response, I nurtured animosity towards the Church, and, over time, towards God. However, unresolved bitterness and anger eventually turned into intellectual doubt. I transitioned from being angry with God to questioning whether God was even real.

How could I know, with assurance, that the Bible and all the stuff it said about God and humanity and history and morality were undeniably true? Moreover, was it worth following even if it was true?

Having sat on these thoughts for some time, there was a brief period during the summer before my Third Year when I considered myself an atheist. I thought that giving up on belief would make me feel free—free from resentment, free from ignorance, free from God. However, rather than feeling free, I felt an internal emptiness instead. Life felt grey and dull. I felt alone, too—more alone than I had ever felt.

Fast-forward a few months.

Time passed and I eventually came around to being open to faith again—though not without some low points and a substantial amount of existential anxiety. Still, even though I was open to belief, I couldn’t shake my feelings of uncertainty and I didn’t have a strong sense of confidence about any particular belief. Despite my doubt, I wanted desperately to trust in something again.

I walked into my advisor’s office on that day hoping that he would speak some magical words that would inspire me and give me a sense of hope once more. I walked out feeling neither a greater sense of clarity nor a renewed hope.

So what’s happened since the day that I left that office?

Although I would like to say that a couple weeks passed by and then, out of no where, God arrived on a white horse and I had a profound moment of conversion where my doubt was put to rest and my faith restored, I can’t say with any honesty that that was the case. Nearly a year and a half has elapsed since that meeting with my advisor and I still have yet to experience that “Eureka!” moment where everything is reinstated as it once was.

A lot has changed for me since then. The time in between has brought new hopes, more doubts, fresh experiences, moments of deep sadness, and moments of unparalleled beauty. Still, God has yet to ride in on a white horse and answer every single one of my questions. Maybe He will, some day, but I’m not so sure that it’s a safe bet.

God didn’t show up in the way that I was hoping, but despite this, I have found God in ways that are deeper and richer than I could ever have imagined on that day in August 2016. The ways in which I experience God are nuanced and unique and everywhere. I see God in a poem or song, from time to time. I see God in a Sunday drive through the Blue Ridge. I experience God when I have a really rich, deep conversation with a friend over a cigarette (Sorry Mom!) Most of all, however, I experience the reality of God through others. The moments when I see and experience the way that people truly love and care for each other and for me are the moments when I’m convinced, beyond of shadow of doubt, that God is real and alive and present.

This may sound a bit esoteric. I won’t disagree with that. My times of doubt have created an uncertainty about God in ways that can be frustrating, but the same uncertainty that causes me distress has also made space for me to experience the mystery of God. In many ways, the reality of uncertainty has shown me that my advisor was correct when he said, “No one gets a 100 on a quiz.” At the same time, this uncertainty has made God indefinable and illimitable and has animated life with mystery and excitement in ways that I didn’t think were possible.

In an essay entitled, “Circles,” Ralph Waldo Emerson writes, “Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.” I used to desire certainty about life. I wanted to have all the answers. I wanted to understand God and, in a way, I wanted to control God. Now, I think about things differently. I’m more at ease with the fact that I won’t ever know and understand everything. Now, I’m invigorated by the fact that God is far beyond my understanding. Rather than seeking to be the master of knowledge and truth, I tend to think of a life lived well as, like Emerson writes, “an apprenticeship to the truth.”

Each day brings with it the possibility of seeing the world and experiencing God in myriad ways that are new and fresh and exhilarating. Of course, this brings the possibility that yesterday’s way of understanding may require reconsideration and perhaps abandonment. In my experience, the “apprenticeship to truth” often entails a constant expansion and reconsideration of what I considered true one year ago or last week or even yesterday. I’m not going to suggest that this pursuit of truth doesn’t pose the possibility of anxiety and doubt and despair—that’s an inherent risk. Uncertainty is scary and there often isn’t an easy solution to dealing with it. However, despite the uncertainty and fear that the journey towards truth may bring, I am convinced whole-heartedly that the journey is vitally and comprehensively worthwhile. At the end of the day, what I think makes this way of navigating life invaluable is that it creates an opportunity for growth—personal growth, intellectual growth, and spiritual growth.

To me, for the time being, this is far better than getting a 100 on the quiz.


The most joyful thing: Lent 4

Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.  "The time has come!" he said.  "The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe the good news."  {Mark 1:14}

TO REPENT is to adopt God's viewpoint in place of your own.  Far from being sorrowful, repentance is the most joyful thing in the world, because when you have done it you have adopted the viewpoint of truth itself; you are in fellowship with God. 

{William Temple, 1881-1944}

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Do you remember how Jesus said over and over again, "Repent"?  Repent: that is, evaluate the whole way you are living your life in light of this great fact: "The kingdom of God is at hand."
Now that is not a way of saying that the kingdom of heaven almost came but didn't quite make it---and now we're in some kind of divine parenthesis, that have to muddle through as best we can and wait for heaven after we die.  That's not what Jesus meant.

Imagine that you and I were walking along the street and I said to you, "Behold, the restaurant is near at hand. Let's eat!"  It's more like that.  The kingdom of heaven has been made available to you and me.  And God is right here, at hand: with us now.

{adapted from Richard Foster}

Faith, justice and coding. Reflections by Sarah Bland '19

Standing on the rooftop bar of Squarespace’s office building in NYC’s SoHo district, I looked out over the foggy scene of bustling traffic in the intersection below and felt, in a word, overwhelmed. The week leading up to that moment had been filled with many new people, intense full-stack development classes, and challenging conversations. I was in New York City for a program called The Impact Fellowship, an intense, two-week coding experience for “the next generation of social entrepreneurs.” I went, intending to engage with issues of injustice, meet similarly motivated peers/ mentors, and ascertain whether computer science could be a viable field for those seeking to “love God and love people” well. And yet, here I was, visiting the posh downtown office of a company with millions of users, nearly half a billion in net worth, and hundreds of employees earning six digits. Questions about the computer science industry dizzyingly crowded my mind: “Can ethics and industry intersect meaningfully, or is CS too obfuscated by desire for wealth, glory, and power?” “Am I competitive enough to be a software engineer? Powerful and faithful enough to do SWE for God’s glory?” “Is CS intrinsically too abstracted away from immediate aid and love for those who need it most?” My mental state was perfectly mirrored in the confused honking, peddling, and shouting below.


Overwhelming as the moment was, these sensations of cognitive, emotional, and spiritual dissonance in relation to my vocation and calling were not incongruent with prior experience. While it may be true that we often don’t understand God’s ways, we can sometimes [if we’re fortunate] begin to see patterns. One that’s repeated itself again and again in my life has been God’s calling to go and do in cities. In college alone, I’ve been called to Greensboro, NC for a service trip, Chicago for a spring break social justice plunge, Chicago [again] for a summer of urban ministry, the Perkins House Charlottesville, and New York City for a winter break spent learning about coding for social impact. Lord willing, I will spend this coming summer in Detroit, Michigan, working at the intersection of justice and SWE (e.g. teaching coding skills  through a startup like Grand Circus to people who’d otherwise not have access to tech education). Each of these cities have taught me particular lessons; nonetheless, persistent threads have woven themselves throughout all of my experiences. Predominantly, I have been struck in each location by the confluence of human brokenness and excellence on all scales. The paradoxical coexistence of vibrancy and pain in the human experience are nowhere more evident than in the multitudes living in places such as Chicago and New York City; nowhere are the broken, hungry, and alone more visible.

It may not be immediately obvious how computer science, or the tech scene at large, plays into all of this. It is the case that NYC, perhaps more than any other city I have encountered, exhibits a bold demarcation between countably infinite numbers of exceptionally wealthy individuals and (seemingly) uncountably infinite numbers of needy individuals. Certain fields within computer science, such as financial and informational technology, play a significant role in this divide, as they contribute to ever-widening wealth and access gaps within the city. Now, more than ever, NYC’s Silicon Alley is burgeoning into a multi-billion value parallel to California’s Silicon Valley. Even impressive companies such as Squarespace are overshadowed by nearby Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft offices. To be sure, some of these tech companies are impacting the world positively through their products and research. Almost all, however, are explicitly negative in terms of their diversity, inclusion, and ethical resource acquisition (think: precious metals like Coltan, important for building hardware). Certainly, many are neutral. Regardless, it is inevitable that computer science is changing the world (and quickly); the only variable that remains to be defined is the moral and ethical direction in which it does so.

It is the multidimensionality of this problem, as well as the role that I [may or may not] play in it, that caused my overwhelmed and anxious state that afternoon in New York City. I know that God has given me a mind and desire for computer science. I believe that CS has the potential to change the world on a broad and powerful scale, but I personally possess a limited understanding about what that could look like and have no certainty whatsoever about what part I could play. I know that God tends to call me to go and do. I also know that God is training me to think about and engage with issues of injustice; He is ever-breaking my hubris, white privilege, and false self-sufficiency through prodding my heart to better love my neighbor. Finally, I know that God often asks more questions than He provides answers and am learning to be still in that discomfort. My mother, at the end of a long conversation discussing these themes, said to me: “Sarah, you are a warrior being trained for the forefront of some battle.” Ultimately, I can only pray that God will arm me well in preparation and that I will be able to discern His voice when He calls.

When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.”

Exodus 14:10-15 (ESV)

P.S. Have an interest in learning more about some cutting-edge tech projects that actually are promising vectors for change? Check out WePower’s decentralized energy network (built using blockchain technology), this research project on protecting victims of intimate partner violence from surveillance by abusers, or Bad Batch Alert. Or send me an email at scb4ga@virginia.edu and we can chat!

Are you thirsty? Lent 3

O Lord, all my longing is known to you; my sighing is not hidden from you...O God, you are my God.  I seek you.  My soul thirsts for you.  {Psalm 38}


The one who relies on mere human strength is like a stunted shrub in the desert, living in the barren, salt-encrusted wilderness with no hope for the future.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope and confidence is in the Lord.  That person is like a tree planted along a riverbank, with its roots reaching deep into the water--a tree that is not bothered by the heat, not worried by long months of drought, whose leaves stay green.  A tree that goes right on producing luscious fruit.  {Jeremiah 7}

LORD, I know not what to ask of You.
You alone know what my true needs are.
You love me more than I myself know how to love.
Help me to see my real needs, which may be hidden from me.
I dare not ask for either a cross or consolation.
I can only wait upon You; my heart is open to You.
Visit and help me in Your steadfast love.
Strike me & heal me; cast me down & raise me up.
I worship in silence Your holy will.
I offer myself to You as a living sacrifice.
I put all my trust in You.
I have no other desire than to fulfill Your will.
Teach me to pray.  Pray Yourself in me.  {Metropolitan of Philaret of Moscow}

Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who thirst."  Come and drink deep of the living water; let Christ fill your heart and heal your wounds.

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Lent 2: lessons of the desert

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"I cared for you in the wilderness, in the dry desert where no water was." Hosea 13:5

God chooses to meet us where we are, even in our loneliest places.  Instead of expecting us to find God, God comes to us.  God cares for us in our wilderness, in the dry desert where no water is.  God longs to bring us home to green pastures--rejoicing.

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The lesson of the desert is that we are not in control of everything.
We must first acknowledge our weakness so that we may lean upon the strength of God.  
We must admit our fear so that we may receive the courage of God.
We must declare ourselves lost so that we may take the leading hand of God.
In the desert we discover that it is not God who has abandoned us but we who have abandoned God through our neglect and our way of life.
In the desert we begin to let go of all that is not of God and attach to everything that is.  
We begin to learn that life is really all about loving God with all of our hearts and being open to God's love for us.  What is the desert teaching you?

Be silent.
Be still.
Before your God.
Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God knows.
God understands.
God loves you
With an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.
Let your God—
Love you.                  {Denise Levertov}

God in the whirlwind. Reflections by Perkins Fellow Dominique DeBose '19

Lately I've been feeling like I'm in the middle of a whirlwind*. A disorienting but comforting peacefulness at the core, accompanied by an eerie awareness of the fact that I am surrounded by gales of ungraspable uncertainty... I'm not sure if I should be encouraged or fearful. My vision is clouded... although what vision? The winds protect me, I suppose, or maybe limit me? I want to give my all to something, I want to go out into the world. But I don't know where. I have this mind-eating anxiety about what God's will for me is and a heart-aching desire to pursue it. Yet still, in light of all of my endless interests and passions, I refuse to think of God's will as a time-sensitive bus that I stand in wait for at a specific stop on the corner, worried that if I'm not paying attention, it will pass me by, and I will be left stranded. Instead, her will is of a daily state of mind. So, in that, I ask for WISDOM, FOCUS, PEACE, and RETENTION to go on living each day at a time. I don't know what I'm doing and I don't know where I am going. And that's okay. 

I've come to realize that God is too good to me to let me truly miss out on anything. A tolerant mother who just wants the best for me. Though in the midst of the whirlwind, I get frustrated and angry wondering why she speaks in indecipherable metaphors instead of clear answers, irritated because I cry out and hear no answer. I get annoyed because I thought she was good. But who am I but a child? Who am I to doubt her goodness that has already been so prevalent and revealed to me thus far. Life-giving friends and all the laughter and other good medicines they come with, community, and family that I would be a fool to not express my gratitude towards is what has been given to me. I am learning to live each day at a time, with all of its confusions, frustrations, and laughs. And each day at a time, I will continue to seek God's will with wisdom, focus, peace, and retention. 

*whirlwind: also, used in similes and metaphors to describe an energetic or tumultuous person


Lent 1: at the far side of the wilderness

Then you will call and the Lord will answer. You will cry for help and God will say, "I'm here." Isaiah 58:9

Moses led the flock he was tending to the far side of the wilderness
and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  
There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush...
Moses thought, 'I will go over and see this strange sight--why the bush does not burn up.'  
When the Lord saw that Moses had gone over to look,
God called to him from within the bush, 'Moses! Moses!'  
And Moses said, 'Here I am.'    Exodus 3:1-4

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Where does Moses encounter God?  On the far side of the wilderness--that out of the way, untamed place where Moses slows down & tends his flock in quiet.  It's the ideal place for God to capture his attention.  Alone with his sheep, Moses can't help but see the steadily burning bush. He draws closer until God calls him by name: "Moses! Moses!" In this intimate meeting, God touches Moses to the depths of his heart.
During this time of Lent, I'm invited to travel to the far side of the wilderness, a place where nothing much is happening. In those moments away from the everyday chatter, manifestations of God's strange blazing beauty wait for me.  There God calls me by my name and hopes for my response, "Here I am."

Your wilderness can be a graced place.  Be still and let the things of God touch your heart.  Wait for God to whisper your name, to light a flame in your spirit, to speak of how beloved you are.

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Let's be comfortable with being uncomfortable - Laura Eom '18

A new year means new resolutions to do better, be better, and grow as person. It’s only the middle of January though and I am already failing at my new years resolution: to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I’ve fallen back into the same routine of going to class, talking to the same people, eating the same food, and going to the same places for fun. I am addicted to comfort and security… and there’s a good chance you are too. 

Being a Horizons Fellow has challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone, specifically, when it comes to racial justice. In one of our recent meetings, we were able to talk about how to approach racial reconciliation in Charlottesville with its history and current issue of gentrification. This meeting included the Perkins Fellows as well, and I was not the only minority speaking on this issue.

The discussion did not end with a singular action based resolution and it would be naive to think that a complex societal issue could be solved in one meeting. Nevertheless, that should not debilitate one to inaction. No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something.

Start by listening to the people who are affected by this issue. This means going out of your way to meet people who are different from you. Go to culture shows, One Way IV/AIV/GCF large group, BSA/ISA/VSA meetings and listen! Let people talk about their experiences and validate them. Their experiences are real and may extend beyond just themselves. Be comfortable being uncomfortable not knowing everything about race and privilege. I myself am still learning from people who come from different backgrounds than my own and it can still feel uncomfortable at times! Don’t be afraid of feeling stupid asking questions. It is more stupid to accept living in ignorance. And if you’re someone who has never had to think about how race affects your day-to-day life, it is to be expected that some things need to be explained. And that is OK! It is a process and it takes humility to accept this.

Let's move towards looking more like Christ and be people who initiate these conversations. Jesus initiated conversation when it came to the Samaritan woman (John 4:7-42) and the crippled beggar (John 5:1-15). And in both situations, he was met with pushback and awkwardness. But, Jesus proceeded to converse and interact anyway. He was not deterred from the responses because he loved each one deeply. Our love for comfort and routine should not supersede our love to know and understand brothers and sisters of a different race.  

This year, I commit to being comfortable being uncomfortable, not only for the sake of my brothers and sisters, but for my own personal growth. I will be intentional in placing myself in communities that don’t look like me, and learning from them. Will you step out in faith and take up this challenge with me?

To learn more about the Horizons Fellows program, click here



Reflections by Fellow, Joanie Fasulo

Winter break is one of the only times in the year when I get to wake up to a blank calendar. Other than familial commitments and the occasional phone call, I get to spend my time freely and can even make the choice not to do anything productive. There is little to no question if I will be able to read my Bible or spend time in prayer  – time is in abundance. 

During the academic year, this is not the case. I go to bed each night, thinking about the flurry of activity that will begin the next morning – generally not stopping until late the next evening. Of course, I am the one choosing to live this hectic life – running from a morning behind the counter at Grit to a seminar on African American Political Thought and then to a lecture in the English department on Little Women. After that, it is off to spend time with community youth partners at Friendship Court and then to grab dinner at Newcomb before heading to Alderman for the night, taking little time in between any of these things (generally being late to most). 

These are all things I am happy to be doing. I love the people that I work with and I love that I get to listen to brilliant professors and peers talk about topics that interest me (and with one semester left, I have become even more grateful for my education here). However, during these hectic days, it is all too easy to get caught up in the here-and-now and neglect any part of life that isn’t on my to-do list (something we reflected on with David Foster Wallace’s This is Water as Horizons fellows). This can mean seeing far too few friends who draw me closer to the Lord, reading my Bible or going to church; or any combination of these things that help me to remember that I am a daughter of the King and that I have been promised life to the full. Forgetting my identity makes it harder to give and receive grace, love others well, and commit to a servant’s attitude – things that aren’t all that easy in the first place. After a summer diving deeper into many theological questions and practices, it became rather clear that the answer is almost always to spend more time with God – to seek comfort in the hard times and to celebrate in the good. So many of us know this to be true, yet we still struggle to do just that – at least, I know I do. When I came back to grounds this fall after my time spent working in a kitchen at a Christian study center on Martha’s Vineyard (perhaps the most idyllic summer job), I was so grateful that I had signed up to spend a larger chunk of time with the Theological Horizons team. 

As an Intern and a Fellow, the chunks in my calendar designated to TH are set apart from the rest of my commitments (and not just because they have their own color in my elaborate attempt at organization– one of my many outlets of procrastination). I step out of my frenetic pace and into the spaces that TH creates for me. These spaces are marked aside and often begin or end in prayer. Not only do I get to hear wisdom from vintage Christians on Fridays, I get to learn about their lives and read their quotes in preparation for sharing their words with students via weekly emails or social media posts. I get to receive wisdom and advice from my mentor who is further along in her walk with the Lord and is also passionate about caring for the community around her. Engaging in times of fellowship and encouragement extend beyond the times like evening prayer (here is a shameless plug for y’all – Wednesdays at 6pm, Lawn Room 47 West) or monthly Horizons meetings. It is in our weekly planning meetings where Christy will catch us up on the latest episode of On Being and Karen will read a piece to bring us into prayer and a time of sharing (this was where I learned of the spiritual practice of statio – taking intentional time during transitions to rest in the moment.) Fridays spent in the office with Megan offer a time to catch up from the week as either of us work on various duties as interns (often involving envelopes) – we give each other briefings on what has happened and how we’ve been doing with the quiet times (Megan is a seasoned pro at making these happen in her own busy schedule, I am often in awe). Perhaps the highlight of both of our semesters, has been the steady supply of trail mix available in the office (aside from the times when our fellow intern, Garrett, has stolen all the chocolate). 

Fittingly, I had not taken a break long enough to reflect on how I spent my time over this semester until it was over. Looking back, I am able to fully appreciate all of the different ways that my time with TH draws me out of my calendar and myself and into a beloved community. In a time in my life when the next step is uncertain, I am unbelievably grateful to Theological Horizons and the people it has led me to and the restful times it has given to me. 

Before the Rush resources

Sorority rush begins at UVa soon--a process that sparks many urgent questions:  Who are my friends?  Where do I find my identity?  Am I beautiful?  How do I deal with stress and disappointment?  with judgement?  Where is God in all of this?  These are questions that we all ask throughout our lives! 

As students return to the university, we want share two precious resources: short audio talks that are just one click away.  Listen to these talks from our past "Beat The Rush" events.
These talks for ALL women students--whether you are rushing a sorority, in a sorority already, not in a sorority!  Like me, you are seeking love, acceptance, friendship...and struggling with insecurity, fear and doubts.  It is so important to be reminded of how very beautiful and loved you are.  So do yourself a favor and listen up...
The first talk is by Susan Cunningham on "Finding Your True Identity".  Susan was named Best Psychologist in Charlottesville, and her words are so wise and so kind...Don't miss the truth about who YOU really are.   Click HERE to listen to Susan's talk.
The second talk is by Miska Collier on "Knowing the Light and Love of God".  Miska is a spiritual counselor--30 seconds into her talk you'll be hooked.  Click HERE to listen to Miska's talk.

We'll be hosting a Before the Rush lunch for women on Friday, January 13th from 1230-1:45pm at the Bonhoeffer House. All woman are welcome!


What Does Every College Kid Need? Good Friends. - Jodie Berndt

We are doing a book give away of Jodie's new book, Praying the Scriptures for your Adult Children! Email us your name and mailing address by midnight, Friday, January 12th and we'll announce the winners early next week!

I remember the high school counselor asking Robbie and me what we were looking for in a college for Hillary, our eldest. He expected, I guess, for us to say something like “affordable tuition” or “strong academic reputation” or even something lofty, like “opportunities to pursue bio-medical research.” I think the guy was a little stunned when I gave him my answer:  I wanted my daughter to go someplace where she would make good friends and enjoy strong Christian fellowship.

Fellowship is a tricky word. Author John Ortberg says it is “churchy,” and that it “suggests basements and red punch and awkward conversations.” I get that. But I also understand what Ortberg means when he says that fellowship is something we can’t live without. And when the time came to send Hillary—and then later, her siblings—off to college, my first prayers were for them to find life-giving friendships, the kind marked by things like loyalty, joy, and a vibrant commitment to Christ.

God answered those prayers, but the road to connectedness has not always been easy, or quick. I remember dropping Hillary off at U.Va. on Move-In Weekend. Someone had chalked a cheery greeting on the sidewalk steps: 



The words held such promise! But, two months later, as the newness wore off and homesickness set in, they seemed almost hollow. Hillary had a great roommate and her life swirled with classes and social activities, but she had not yet discovered “her people.” There was friendship space that had yet to be filled.

Our kids need good friends. We can’t make them for them, but we can certainly ask God to provide. And as we pray for this need—as we partner with God to accomplish his good purposes in our kids’ lives—let’s look to the Scriptures for insight on what matters most. There are, obviously, all sorts of ways we might pray; here are three of my top friendship requests:

Constancy. The Bible offers several portraits of friendships marked by loyalty, dependability, and faithfulness:  Jonathan and David. Ruth and Naomi. And of course Jesus, the one who promised to be with us “always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Let’s ask God to give our kids faithful friends and to draw them into a life-giving relationship with Jesus, the one who gave up his life “for his friends” (John 15:13).

Next, Transparency. When I was a student at U.Va., I had two roommates (Susan and Barbie), and we gave each other permission to be what we called “brutally honest.” It didn’t matter if we were critiquing an iffy outfit or confronting each other about a questionable behavior; we spoke the truth. We tried to do so with love, but even the gentlest rebukes sometimes hurt. “Faithful,” Proverbs 27:6 says, “are the wound of a friend.” Let’s ask God to give our college kids friends like that—friends with whom they can admit their mistakes and find restoration, forgiveness, and genuine love.

And finally, let’s pray that our kids will enjoy friendship with other believers, the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit” that Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 13:14, the kind that fosters connection, not just on the natural level, but also in the deepest recesses of the soul. Friendships forged around common interests (sports teams, Greek life, good books) are wonderful, but when the common ground of eternity comes into play, the most satisfying relationships—the kind that transcend things like race, age, and socioeconomic background—can take root. Let’s ask God to surround our children with friends who will “spur them on toward love and good deeds” and run alongside them as they “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.” (Hebrews 10:24, 2 Timothy 2:22)

If you like praying this way—taking the words we find in the Bible, and using them to give shape to our prayers—you’ll find hundreds of prayer prompts in my new book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children. In addition to the prayers about friendship, the book covers grown-up needs like getting a job, resisting the party culture, and making the transition to adulthood with wisdom, purpose, and grace.

It doesn’t matter how old our kids are, or how far away they may go. We never stop loving them. We never stop wanting God’s best for their lives. We might not be able to pick their friends (or anything else they might choose), but we can pray. We can slip our hand into God’s—the One who loves them enough, and is powerful enough, to do more than all we could ask or imagine—and trust him to do what he promised.

It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)


Jodie Berndt is a 1984 graduate of The University of Virginia and a former co-chair of the U.Va. Parents Fund Committee. The author of nine books (including the popular Praying the Scriptures series), Jodie is a speaker, writer, and Bible teacher. Find her writing at JodieBerndt.com, or connect with her on Facebook (Jodie Berndt Writes), Instagram (@jodie_berndt), and Twitter (@jodieberndt).

Jodie and her husband, Robbie (Class of 1985), have four Wahoo children and two Hokie sons-in-law. Which, except during football season, is not such a bad thing.



A Sonnet for Epiphany by Malcolm Guite

 Artwork: detail from "Epiphany" by  Christen Yates

Artwork: detail from "Epiphany" by Christen Yates

It might have been just someone else’s story,
Some chosen people get a special king.
We leave them to their own peculiar glory,
We don’t belong, it doesn’t mean a thing.
But when these three arrive they bring us with them,
Gentiles like us, their wisdom might be ours;
A steady step that finds an inner rhythm,
A  pilgrim’s eye that sees beyond the stars.
They did not know his name but still they sought him,
They came from otherwhere but still they found;
In temples they found those who sold and bought him,
But in the filthy stable, hallowed ground.
Their courage gives our questing hearts a voice
To seek, to find, to worship, to rejoice.

To listen to Guite explain and read his poem, click here

Portrait of Malcolm Guite by Bruce Herman.

The shimmer of angels' wings: Advent 3

 The Annunciation by John Collier

The Annunciation by John Collier

The Annunciation by Malcolm Guite

We see so little, stayed on surfaces,
We calculate the outsides of all things,
Preoccupied with our own purposes
We miss the shimmer of angels' wings.
They coruscate around us in their joy,
A swirl of wheels & eyes & wings unfurled;
They guard the good
we purpose to destroy,
A hidden blaze of glory in God's world.
But on this day a young girl stopped to see
With open eyes and heart. 
She heard the voice--
The promise of his glory yet to be
As time stood still for her to make a choice.
Gabriel knelt & not a feather stirred.
The Word himself was waiting on her word.

 Annunciation Magpie by Allen William Seaby

Annunciation Magpie by Allen William Seaby

Magnificat by Mary F.C. Pratt

Under pine trees in the snow,
the chickadees around my head,
I wept for the will of God,
this hungry woman fed.
All the shadows shifted,
while my back was turned.
Once and always on my finger
one soft and small gray bird.
Not a twisting due to prayer
but all its own, and mine together.
And so I bear the gift,
carry it through time--
this deepest darkness.
astonishing grace.

annunciation houselander.jpg

The World is Wild! Advent 2

angel of the sea burne-jones cropped.jpg

"The House of Christmas" by G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam; 
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home. 
The crazy stable close at hand, 
With shaking timber and shifting sand, 
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome. 

For men are homesick in their homes, 
And strangers under the sun, 
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done. 
Here we have battle and blazing eyes, 
And chance and honour and high surprise, 
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun. 

A Child in a foul stable, 
Where the beasts feed and foam; 
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home; 
We have hands that fashion and heads that know, 
But our hearts we lost - how long ago! 
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome. 

This world is wild as an old wives' tale, 
And strange the plain things are, 
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war; 
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star. 

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come, 
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome. 
To the end of the way of the wandering star, 
To the things that cannot be and that are, 
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home. 

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The Shaking Reality of Advent

Alfred Delp (1907-1945) was Christian condemned for his opposition to Hitler.  He wrote this reflection on Advent shortly before his execution.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. – Luke 1:51

There is perhaps nothing we modern people need more than to be genuinely shaken up. Where life is firm we need to sense its firmness; and where it is unstable and uncertain and has no basis, we need to know this, too, and endure it.

We may ask why God sends whirlwinds over the earth, why the chaos where all appears hopeless and dark, and why there seems to be no end to human suffering. Perhaps it is because we have been living on earth in an utterly false and counterfeit security. and now God strikes the earth till it resounds, now he shakes and shatters: not to pound us with fear, but to teach us one thing – the spirit’s innermost longing.

Many of the things that are happening today would never have happened if we had been living in that longing, that disquiet of heart which comes when we are faced with God, and when we look clearly at things as they really are. If we had done this, God would have withheld his hand from many of the things that now shake and crush our lives. We would have come to terms with and judged the limits of our own competence.

But we have lived in a false confidence, in a delusional security; in our spiritual insanity we really believe we can bring the stars down from heaven and kindle flames of eternity in the world. We believe that with our own forces we can avert the dangers and banish night, switch off and halt the internal quaking of the universe. We believe we can harness everything and fit it into an ultimate scheme that will last.

Here is the message of Advent: faced with him who is the Last, the world will begin to shake. Only when we do not cling to false securities will our eyes be able to see this Last One and get to the bottom of things. Only then will we have the strength to overcome the terrors into which God has let the world sink. God uses these terrors to awaken us from sleep, as Paul says, and to show us that it is time to repent, time to change things. It is time to say, “all right, it was night; but let that be over now and let us get ready for the day.” We must do this with a decision that comes out of the very horrors we experience. Because of this our decision will be unshakable even in uncertainty.

If we want Advent to transform us – our homes and hearts, and even nations – then the great question for us is whether we will come out of the convulsions of our time with this determination: Yes, arise! It is time to awaken from sleep. a waking up must begin somewhere. It is time to put things back where God intended them. It is time for each of us to go to work – certain that the Lord will come – to set our life in God’s order wherever we can. Where God’s word is heard, he will not cheat us of the truth; where our life rebels he will reprimand it.

We need people who are moved by the horrific calamities and emerge from them with the knowledge that those who look to the Lord will be preserved by him, even if they are hounded from the earth.

The Advent message comes out of our encounter with God, with the gospel. It is thus the message that shakes – so that in the end the entire world shall be shaken. The fact that the son of man shall come again is more than a historic prophecy; it is also a decree that God’s coming and the shaking up of humanity are somehow connected. If we are inwardly inert, incapable of being genuinely moved, if we become obstinate and hard and superficial and cheap, then God himself will intervene in world events. He will teach us what it means to be placed in turmoil and to be inwardly stirred. Then the great question to us is whether we are still capable of being truly shocked – or whether we will continue to see thousands of things that we know should not be and must not be and yet remain hardened to them. In how many ways have we become indifferent and used to things that ought not to be?

Being shocked, however, out of our pathetic complacency is only part of Advent. There is much more that belongs to it. Advent is blessed with God’s promises, which constitute the hidden happiness of this time. These promises kindle the light in our hearts. Being shattered, being awakened – these are necessary for Advent. In the bitterness of awakening, in the helplessness of “coming to,” in the wretchedness of realizing our limitations, the golden threads that pass between heaven and earth reach us. These threads give the world a taste of the abundance it can have.

We must not shy away from Advent thoughts of this kind. We must let our inner eye see and our hearts range far. Then we will encounter both the seriousness of Advent and its blessings in a different way. We will, if we would but listen, hear the message calling out to us to cheer us, to console us, and to uplift us.

From Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas.

On Saint Nicholas

It is common and appropriate to decry the commercialization of the Christmas season. There are fewer voices raised to mourn the trivialization of St. Nicholas. Well does he deserve to be the patron of children, and well might they delight in his name. But he might be remembered not only as the jolly source of toys and treats but also as the protector of those whose lives and innocence remain threatened today, as they were in the time of St. Nicholas, by violence, poverty, and exploitation.

From All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses For Our Time by Robert Ellsberg

From “Life of Saint Nicholas”  by Michael the Archimandrite, (written between 814 and 842)

Nicholas, the famous champion of those languishing in travails and prophetic high priest, by God's choice, of the metropolis Myra, was born in the city of Patara, one of cities then illustrious in the province of Lycia, although now it is said to scarcely preserve the appearance of a village. His parents were thoroughly noble and well-off, and surpassed many in their reverence toward Christ, on account of which they kept themselves free of worldly glory and were always eager to devote themselves to the works of justice. For the ever-pious understand that the person who touches tar is not free of its stain.

After his parents had gone to the Lord and left him much property and an abundance of money and possessions, he reckoned that he had God as his father. Gazing chastely on Him with the eye of his soul, he firmly begged the good God that he surrender his life and all his possessions, if that seemed good to Him. He said: "Teach me, Lord, to do Your will, because You are my God" (Psalm 143.10) as well as "Make known to me, Lord, the path upon which I am to journey, because to You I have lifted my soul from all triviality and worldly lowliness." (Psalm 143.8). He seemed to hear God, as it were, speaking clearly through the holy prophet David: "Even if wealth abounds, do not surrender your heart" (Psalm 62.11). And similarly the author of Proverbs plainly teaches: "Let almsgiving and acts of faith not abandon you, but fasten them around your neck and you will find grace" (Proverbs 3.3) as well as "That person benefits his soul, who has pity on the destitute and those who happen to be poor in their livelihood." (Proverbs 11.17). Nicholas did not cease to continually hand over his abundance — to store it up in the secure treasure-houses of heaven. So he was repaid in full by the impoverished.

There was a certain man among those who were recently famous and well-born, and he was a neighbor, his home being next to Nicholas'... He had three daughters who were both shapely and very attractive to the eye, and he was willing to station them in a brothel so that he might thereby acquire the necessities of life for himself and his household. For no man among the lordly or powerful deigned to marry them lawfully, and even among the lower-classes and those who owned the least bit of something there was no one well-minded enough to do this. And so the man looked away from his salvation and, as it were, fainted at the thought of prevailing upon God with persistence and prayer. By this logic he came to assent to situating his daughters in the abyss of such dishonor.

But the Lord who loves humankind, who never wishes his own creation to become hostage to sin, sent him a holy angel — I mean the godlike Nicholas — both to rescue him, along with his whole household, from poverty and destruction, and to restore readily his previous prosperity. …By the expenditure and very generous donation of his own money, Nicholas became a most ready resource for their defense, and he saved them, though they were already being led away to a death of profligacy...

The true model of purity and author of sympathy, Nicholas, wishing to use his own money to help the man, and to lead him with his daughters away from the shameful and dishonorable deed which had, in truth, already been decided for them — what does he do? He does not appear to him in person or speak about a gift or any other type of relief, thereby freeing him from shame while at the same time very carefully1 taking the trouble not to trumpet his own charity. After hurling a bag containing a large amount of gold into the house through the window at night, he quickly hastened home...

As Bishop of Myra, Nicholas lived the qualities that caused his fame and popularity to spread throughout the Christian world. His vigorous actions on behalf of his people and in defense of the Christian faith reveal a man who lived his convictions. Nicholas was not timid—he did what was necessary and was not easily intimidated by others' power and position. His concern for the welfare of his flock and his stand for orthodox belief earned him respect as a model for bishops and a defender of the faith.  His active pursuit of justice for his people was demonstrated when he secured grain in time of famine, saved the lives of three men wrongly condemned, and secured lower taxes for Myra. He taught the Gospel simply, so ordinary people understood, and he lived out his faith and devotion to God in helping the poor and all in need.

Welcome, all Wonders! Advent 1

Advent ("arrival")

has been observed by Christians since ancient times. It is a season of inward preparation for God's wondrous coming into our midst: a time of gladness and fear.  This God who came to Bethlehem---and who will come again in glory---conquers darkness, scatters the proud, humbles the mighty, feeds the hungry, and sends the rich away empty-handed (Luke 1:51-53).  How will we get ready for such a coming?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer gives us a picture of Advent as "a prison cell, in which one waits, hopes, and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside." The essence of Advent, then, is expectancy and readiness for action: watchfulness for every small opening, and a willingness to risk everything for freedom and a new beginning. 

John 114.jpg
Conversion” by Marci Johnson

How can word
become flesh?
Belly. Bone.

Tongue—the feel
in the mouth a word
rolling around. Word,

not a kiss not the thing
itself—a name. The arch
of a foot. Your face

in my hands, just
a name. Blue sky lolling
beyond the window
frame—eyes open.
Just a way of looking.
Begin with a change.
Annunciation Icon 1.jpg

from Frederick Buechner:

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary," and that is the beginning of a story – a time, a place, a set of characters, and the implied promise, which is common to all stories, that something is coming, something interesting or significant or exciting is about to happen. And I would like to start out by reminding you that this is what Christianity is. If we whittle away long enough, it is a story that we come to at last. And if we take even the fanciest and most metaphysical kind of theologian or preacher and keep on questioning him far enough – Why is this so? All right, but why is that so? Yes, but how do we know that it's so? – even he is forced finally to take off his spectacles and push his books off to one side and say, "Once upon a time there was...," and then everybody leans forward a little and starts to listen.

We want to know what is coming next. There was a young woman named Mary, and an angel came to her from God, and what did he say? And what did she say? And then how did it all turn out in the end? The story Christianity tells is one that can be so simply told that we can get the whole thing really on a very small Christmas card or into two crossed pieces of wood. Yet in another sense it is so vast and complex that the whole Bible can only hint at it, a story beyond time altogether.  Yet it is also in time, the story of the love between God and humanity. There is a time when it begins, and therefore there is a time before it begins, when it is coming but not yet here, and this is the time Mary was in when Gabriel came to her. It is Advent: the time just before the adventure begins, when everybody is leaning forward to hear what will happen even though they already know what will happen and what will not happen, when they listen hard for meaning, their meaning, and begin to hear, only faintly at first, the beating of unseen wings.  

 by Richard Crashaw 1612-1649

by Richard Crashaw 1612-1649

On Bread & Roses by Perkins Fellow Isabella Hall '19

From sweat, dirt, and enduring swarms of mosquitoes comparable to the army of locusts depicted in the book of Joel, to traveling to Princeton Theological Seminary for a conference on race and food, my partnership with Bread & Roses through the Perkins Fellowship has been an adventure. Bread & Roses, a ministry of Trinity Episcopal Church, is a non-profit which focuses on nutritional outreach. Some of the ways this is accomplished is through the community garden and cooking clinics which are hosted at the church as well as collaboration with other organizations working toward food justice in Charlottesville. One of the reasons I was attracted to Bread & Roses at Trinity Episcopal is its rich heritage as an intentional multiracial community of reconciliation. The Church is located on Preston Avenue, a stone’s throw away from my home, the Perkins House. I am grateful to be partnering with a ministry that serves, and is situated within, my neighborhood.

My time at Bread & Roses has primarily been in the garden alongside the volunteers, most of whom are Trinity Episcopal members, who gather weekly to tend to the garden. Beginning in June, I started attending garden work days and quickly realized how little I knew and how much there was to learn! I was always asking questions, taking directions, attempting to soak up the extensive knowledge of the more seasoned garden workers, like Sally and Martha. I was shown so much patience and overtime, a vibrant little community had formed as we planted, weeded, and watered. We began to share meals on a monthly basis. After we completed the garden work, we’d gather over fresh food, often prepared using produce from the Bread & Roses garden or the personal gardens of the volunteers. These meals were never lacking in laughter and gradually, the various quirks and idiosyncrasies of each volunteer became remarkably endearing. It was, and continues to be, a dynamic group with a wide range of ages, occupations, ethnicities. Our once monthly meals transitioned into a biweekly event and suddenly, there was never a gathering without fresh food and a time of fellowship. I really cannot find the words to describe my gratitude for these relationships, none of which I would have had I remained within the narrow boundaries of the University community. Seeing these friends and working alongside one another in the heat and the dirt became a rhythmic occurrence each week, an essential piece of my lived liturgy.

Another component of my involvement with Bread & Roses has been thinking deeply about our food systems—the mechanisms by which we produce, acquire, and consume our food. Bread & Roses was generous enough to send me to Princeton Theological Seminary’s “Just Food” conference on race and food where I learned a tremendous amount about our centralized, mass-producing food industry known as the Food Regime. Some of the problems of the Food Regime include the exploitation of migrant and farm workers, the degradation of the land and natural resources, gentrification which displaces the poor, unequal access to healthy and affordable food options, and an increasingly centralized system which depletes local production and small-scale, sustainable farming. What’s more, these macro problems inordinately affect women and people of color, such as Latino/a migrant workers to inner-city African-Americans. While these problems are systemic and cannot be rectified with individual actions, confronting the reality of the situation certainly gave me pause and caused me to reflect upon my role within these systems. How am I to eat justly, sustainably, in a way that is honoring of my body, my neighbors, and the land? This is where “alternative food orders” become so vitally important. What’s an alternative food order? Think operations or organizations which connect people more closely with the production of their food—locally owned supermarkets like Reid’s, buying from local farms, community gardens and other forms of community supported agriculture (CSA) like farmers markets. These operations nurture local economies and social networks, thereby strengthening communities, in addition to reducing the environmental impact of agriculture. At first blush, a plot of land upon which neighbors get together and grow vegetables may not seem a revolutionary endeavor, but in fact, it is! Think of how countercultural this act is in light of the way most people obtain their food—purchasing foods that have traveled thousands of miles, grown in lands we have little connection to, by people we don’t know, who may or may not have been fairly compensated.

It’s important to recognize that not everyone has the time, money, or luxury to be so conscientious about the origins of their food. Particularly in the case of working class individuals and families, such concerns seem remote in the face of combatting hunger and food insecurity for oneself or their children. However, as a University student, I feel that I have a responsibility, in the wake of the privilege I have been afforded, to be thoughtful about where and how I consume. Another challenge to the work of food justice, and community development more broadly, is a lack of time. As University students are acutely aware, we operate under serious time constraints. Many people who would perhaps like to participate in one of the many community gardens Charlottesville has to offer, are simply unable to because of lack of time. I feel this challenge quite poignantly because in the garden, in my scholastic work, in the spheres of racial, economic, food, and housing justice—the work is never finished. I sympathize with the exasperation of the disciples commanded to feed five thousand men, “Well Jesus, that’s a really sweet sentiment but we only have a few loaves of bread and two fish!” (Matt 14:17, IZH translation). Seemingly, I do not have enough time or money or the social capital required to be impactful. At this point, I must reckon with my own insufficiency. My doing or being “enough” is not the point. Jesus is enough. Perhaps Jesus will multiple my time and efforts like the fishes and loaves, but even if he does not, I am intimately acquainted with the heart of God through pressing into these seemingly insurmountable issues. In fact, the reality of our individual limitations is an invitation into relationship with others. I recently attended the Christian Community Development Association annual conference and was struck by the following statement, “Kingdom sized vision requires Kingdom sized collaboration.” Rather than become exhausted and embittered by our finitude, might these limits instead remind us that we are members of a larger body, working together toward a Kingdom that is both now and not yet.

As we quickly move through the fall season and pull the last of the sweet potatoes out of their beds, my role at Bread & Roses has shifted, but the community has not. In fact, the garden crew has now entered into a book study together in which we read and discuss “Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today.” This book has yielded countless insights on what it means to live in community as well as what it means to monastically approach the daily grind. The author, Joan Chittister, writes, “The monastic looks for holiness in the here and now, unburdened by strange diets or esoteric devotions or damaging denials of self. The real monastic walks through life with a barefooted soul, alert, aware, grateful, and only partially at home” (10). Engaging with the practical wisdom of the Rule of St. Benedictine has been an invaluable resource for life as a resident within the Perkins House. As an eclectic Evangelical and a student of religion, I have really enjoyed exploring the Episcopal tradition, through Trinity Episcopal, and its unique expression of worship which is an integral piece of the body of Christ. As the winter season approaches, we turn toward grant writing, researching food policy, and the administrative tasks which make Bread & Roses possible.

Perhaps the greatest gift of my time at Bread & Roses, has been my relationship with Maria. Maria is the director of Bread & Roses, runs breakfast at the Haven a couple days a week, lives in Charis community, and shares my affinity for dark, caffeinated beverages. Her mentorship and friendship has been a tremendous blessing. Maria is a paragon of steadfastness and hopefulness, two virtues which are indispensable to the cause of doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God. My conversations with Maria remind me that it is Christ and not I who has been tasked with carrying the weight of humanity’s sin. Her very presence reminds me to be thankful and from here, I know more about what it means to follow in the footsteps of Christ.

For more information about the Perkins Fellows program, click here