We continue reading from Hebridean Altars by Alistair Maclean his 1937 collection of the Islanders’ wisdom and piety. Who could not make their own the first part of the prayer we share today? The second part echoes Paul to the Colossians (1:24): “in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.”
Christ says to each one of us, “Thou must take his place.”
Seven times a day, as I work upon this hungry farm,
I say to Thee,
"Lord, why am I here?
"What is there here to stir my gifts to growth?
"What great thing can I do for others --
"I who am captive to this dreary toil?"
And seven times a day Thou answerest,
"I cannot do without thee.
"Once did my Son live thy life,
"and by his faithfulness did show
"My mind, My kindness and My truth to men.
"But now He is come to My side.
"And thou must take His place."
Bill Bryson spent many years living in England, so many that he felt the call to reconnect with his native America, a call he answered by driving across 38 states out of 50. He visited the two Oceans, the mountains, prairies and deserts, until he crossed the border into his home state.A book worth looking out for, an interesting insight into America in its many guises.
It was wonderful to be back to the Midwest, the rolling hills and rich black earth … I passed back into Iowa. As if on cue, the sun emerged from the clouds. A swift band of golden light swept over the fields and made everything instantly warm and springlike. Every farm looked tidy and fruitful. Every little farm looked clean and friendly. I drove on spellbound, unable to get over how striking the landscape was. There was nothing much to it, just rolling fields, but every colour was deep and vivid: the blue sky, the white clouds, the red barns, the chocolate fields. I felt as if I had never seen it before. I had no idea Iowa could be so beautiful.*
Marie Curie said that the present moment is a state of grace, and so it proved for Bill Bryson when the sun came out. But all those moments he documented when his pilgrimage took him through inhospitable landscapes and inhospitable towns, motels and diners, they too were moments of grace – at least when seen in hindsight.
This pilgrim’s progress brought him home. May we be grateful for our holidays and thankful to be able to come home among family and friends. And may we all meet merrily in heaven when our journey is done.
Bill Bryson, The Lost Continent, Travels in Small Town America, New York, HarperCollins, 1989.
Altrincham Market Cross, the 1990 Replica, by Rept0n1x 2013. Notice the small business in the corner! The original Market Cross would have been surrounded by many small businesses. This post comes out a little late to allow us to enjoy in sequence Sister Johanna’s reflections on the rich young man who approached Jesus.
Pope Francis’s prayer intention for August: For small businesses.
We pray for small and medium sized businesses; in the midst of economic and social crisis, may they find ways to continue operating, and serving their communities.
Do you remember when Pope Francis made the headlines for visiting a record shop in Rome to buy a CD? That was support for one small business. I once read that back home in Argentina Cardinal Bergoglio used to take meals in a local family cafe rather than a branch of a big chain. Both those small businesses were serving their local community, rather than anonymous, distant owners.
Some local businesses in our city have closed down in recent times, partly as a result of covid restrictions on trading. Some, of course, were selling cheap souvenirs, something Canterbury was good at from after the death of Saint Thomas until the Reformation led to his shrine being desecrated. No tourists or pilgrims meant no trade.
Well, the continental teenagers are back in town. Let’s hope enough of them like the souvenirs, the ice-creams and refreshments to boost our local businesses. For my part, tomorrow I shall be visiting the street stalls selling fresh local fruit, thereby supporting farmers as well as traders. Not long now till the first Discovery apples appear!
Yesterday’s post was ‘Honour the Lord with your wealth’. This Fair Trade story was sent to us recently and we wanted to share it with you because it resonates with that idea in very different circumstances. This is just a taster of the post; read the whole story here.
THREE REASONS TO BE EXCITED ABOUT OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH MARS
Mars, Fairtrade and ECOOKIM – a collection of cocoa farming co-operatives in Côte d’Ivoire have announced plans to deepen their partnership, through an innovative $10m programme to raise farmer incomes, called LEAP (Livelihoods Ecosystem Advancement Programme). Taryn Holland, Head of Programmes at Fairtrade Foundation, picks out three elements of this partnership to look out for.
1. FARMERS ARE AT THE HEART OF OUR WORK TOGETHER
Fairtrade first started working together with ECOOKIM farmers and Mars over two years ago, to identify the most effective ways to raise cocoa farmers’ incomes and help farming households thrive. Farmers themselves know better than anyone else both the challenges they face – such as climate change and long-term low prices – as well as the sorts of solutions that can best tackle these challenges.
Because no two farmers are the same, the LEAP approach will support different types of farmers with tailored packages to move towards a living income, regardless of their starting position.
2. BUILDING ON FAIRTRADE SOURCING
Mars have been sourcing Fairtrade certified cocoa from ECOOKIM for many years, with products in the UK including Maltesers and Mars bars proudly bearing the Fairtrade Mark. Mars will continue to source cocoa on Fairtrade terms from ECOOKIM, and make additional investments that help improve farmer incomes even further over the long term.
3. SHARING AND EMBRACING LESSONS
A female farming leader at the forefront of the programme, Aminata Bamba, Head of Sustainability for Fairtrade co-operative ECOOKIM, said: ’For us, Fairtrade is not just a certification, it means so much more for farmers. Fairtrade helps pull producers out of poverty. It means a woman can flourish because she knows her rights, she can earn extra money to support the family and pay for school fees, she can buy medicines when her child is sick. All the changes we’ve made are thanks to the Fairtrade Premium, so it’s important that consumers continue to enjoy Fairtrade chocolate. We’re so excited to announce the next steps in our journey with Fairtrade and Mars.’
‘My children and grandchildren will have a problem growing coffee if current generations don’t take action against climate change.’ Caroline Rono, pictured above on her Fairtrade coffee farm in Kenya Caroline sent us this vital reminder on the very first day in the Choose The World You Want festival: to choose that fairer world we all want, we can all take action.And Caroline is leading the way. Like other Fairtrade farmers we’ve met this week, she’s planted trees on her farm, embraced sustainable energy and taken up training on climate-friendly farming techniques. Choosing Fairtrade is one way we can join her in taking action. Action that means more power and more income for farmers like Caroline to take on the huge challenges of climate change.In fact, every single event at the Choose The World You Want festival showcases ways we can take action to back the communities most threatened by climate change. As week two begins, here’s a sneak peak of a few events we’re really looking forward to. #1: The Unfair Climate Crisis, 6pm UK time Wednesday 2 March Around the world it is those on low-incomes, people of colour, indigenous groups, and women feeling the worst effects of climate change.Our expert panel discuss how these deep-seated global injustices are linked, and how we can tackle them together to achieve a fairer future. Fairtrade Africa’s Kate Nkatha hosts a discussion between climate activist and musician Louis VI, 350.org’s Namrata Chowdhary and the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance’s Mithika Mwenda. JOIN THIS EVENT #2: Tony’s and Fairtrade: Choco Quiz and Tasting, 4pm UK time Friday 4 March Try some top Fairtrade chocolate and test your choco knowledge with this quiz and tasting session, featuring cocoa experts from Tony’s and Fairtrade. Sign up and treat yourself some tasty Tony’s goodies to join the fun. Host Angel Arutura, anti-racism educator, activist and content creator, joins Fairtrade cocoa producer and livelihood development officer Deborah Osei-Mensah, Tony’s representative Nicola Matthews and Fairtrade Foundation’s David Finlay. JOIN THIS EVENT And from Fairtrade wine tasting sessions with Co-op to an evening of arts, music and storytelling with the Africaniwa tribe, there’s much much more going on in the final week of the Choose The World You Want festival. Missed anything from week one? Not to worry, many events are now available to watch in our ‘On Demand’ section, including a screening of a film featuring Caroline and a question and answer session with her. More ways to get involved Celebrate the campaigners taking action Fairtrade campaigners have been pounding the streets and flying the flag for Fairtrade this week. Literally! Fairtrade London organised a guided walk around the city on Friday, tracing the links from the transatlantic slave trade to modern global trade inequalities. Meanwhile in Mossley some wonderfully colourful Fairtrade flags are flying to celebrate ten years of Fairtrade Town status.
SHARE YOUR FORTNIGHT ACTIVITES Visit our youth exhibition With thousands of Fairtrade schools, universities and colleges across the UK, youth activism is always at the heart of Fairtrade Fortnight. And this year the Fairtrade Youth Exhibition gives young people a chance to find creative ways to call for climate justice.Find more on the Fairtrade Schools website, where you will find many more opportunities for young people to get involved in Fairtrade Fortnight. Get your MP involved We’re asking MPs to deliver on the promises they made at COP26. Promises to fund just the type of brilliant grassroots climate-friendly farming initiatives Fairtrade farmers have been telling us about all week. Fairtrade Fortnight is the perfect time to ask your MP to back a fair deal for farmers living with the consequences of a climate crisis they did not cause. Use our quick form to get in touch with your representative. WRITE TO YOUR MP And finally, grab those extra ethical bargains! Discounts, competitions and special offers on lots of your Fairtrade favourites are coming thick and fast this Fairtrade Fortnight. Visit our website to scout out special offers from the likes of Traidcraft, Ben & Jerry’s and LIDL. Hope you’ve enjoyed the first week of the Choose The World You Want festival as much as we did. Have a restful weekend as we gear up for another seven days of celebrating and supporting the climate action of farmers and workers around the world. Best wishes, Stefan Campaigns Team, Fairtrade Foundation
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Hi, On Monday, we’re celebrating the start of Fairtrade Fortnight with two unique opportunities to hear directly from Fairtrade farmers taking on the climate crisis.During these two completely free online events, farmers from Kenya, Ghana and Peru will answer your questions live. Check out all the details below, and sign up to join us.
#1: Farmers, the documentary: Film screening and Q & A, 7pm UK time, Monday 21 February Fairtrade coffee farmer Caroline Rono stars in this special cut of ‘Farmers Fighting the Global Crisis’. And for this special online screening, Caroline will be joining us live from Kenya to answer audience questions.Actor, director and Fairtrade Foundation Patron Adjoa Andoh hosts the discussion, which focuses in on the impact of climate change for farmers like Caroline. SIGN UP FOR THIS EVENT
#2: Meet Hugo and Bismark: Fairtrade farmers taking on the climate crisis, 1:30pm UK time, Monday 21 February Hugo, a coffee farmer in Peru, and Bismark, a cocoa farmer from Ghana, both live with the reality of climate change. Every day, they are taking on the climate crisis, working hard to build a sustainable future for their community.In conversation with Fairtrade Foundation CEO Mike Gidney, Bismark and Hugo discuss how choosing Fairtrade supports this vital work. They’ll also be answering your questions live. SIGN UP TO THIS EVENT
We hope you can join us on Monday to celebrate the start of what promises to be an extra special Fairtrade Fortnight. Want to see what else is planned for the Choose The World You Want festival? Check out our festival website – new events, discounts, competitions and stories from Fairtrade farmers are being added all the time.Have a great Fairtrade Fortnight,
Campaigns Team, Fairtrade Foundation
We’ve recently updated our privacy notice. Please read it for up-to-date information about how we use and look after your personal information.Manage your preferences | UnsubscribeFairtrade Foundation, 5.7 The Loom, 14 Gower’s Walk, London, E1 8PYWe are a registered charity in England and Wales (no 1043886) and a company limited by guarantee registered in England (no 2733136).
Pope Francis describes how God and Creation, creation and humanity, and humanity and God are all intimately connected, and a breakdown in one relationship jeopardises the other two. We humans, of course, also undermine what should be loving relationships with each other. Is there one good person on God’s Earth?
70. In the story of Cain and Abel, we see how envy led Cain to commit the ultimate injustice against his brother, which in turn ruptured the relationship between Cain and God, and between Cain and the earth from which he was banished. This is seen clearly in the dramatic exchange between God and Cain. God asks: “Where is Abel your brother?” Cain answers that he does not know, and God persists: “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground” (Genesis 4:9-11). Disregard for a proper relationship with my neighbour, for whose care and custody I am responsible, ruins my relationship with my own self, with others, with God and with the earth. When all these relationships are neglected, when justice no longer dwells in the land, the Bible tells us that life itself is endangered. We see this in the story of Noah, where God threatens to do away with humanity because of its constant failure to fulfil the requirements of justice and peace: “I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them” (Genesis 6:13). These ancient stories, bear witness to a conviction which we today share, that everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others.
71. Although “the wickedness of man was great in the earth” (Genesis 6:5) and the Lord “was sorry that he had made man on the earth” (Genesis 6:6), nonetheless, through Noah, who remained innocent and just, God decided to open a path of salvation. In this way he gave humanity the chance of a new beginning. All it takes is one good person to restore hope! The biblical tradition clearly shows that this renewal entails recovering and respecting the rhythms inscribed in nature by the hand of the Creator. We see this, for example, in the law of the Sabbath. On the seventh day, God rested from all his work. He commanded Israel to set aside each seventh day as a day of rest, a Sabbath, (cf. Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 16:23; 20:10). Similarly, every seven years, a sabbatical year was set aside for Israel, a complete rest for the land (cf. Leviticus 25:1-4), when sowing was forbidden and one reaped only what was necessary to live on and to feed one’s household (cf. Leviticus 25:4-6). Finally, after seven weeks of years, which is to say forty-nine years, the Jubilee was celebrated as a year of general forgiveness and “liberty throughout the land for all its inhabitants” (cf. Leviticus 25:10). This law came about as an attempt to ensure balance and fairness in their relationships with others and with the land on which they lived and worked. “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field to its very border, neither shall you gather the gleanings after the harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner” (Leviticus 19:9-10).
72. The Psalms frequently exhort us to praise God the Creator, “who spread out the earth on the waters, for his steadfast love endures for ever” (Psalm 136:6). They also invite other creatures to join us in this praise: “Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created” (Psalm 148:3-5). We do not only exist by God’s mighty power; we also live with him and beside him. This is why we adore him.
67. Although it is true that we Christians have at times incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures, nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures. The biblical texts are to be read in their context, recognising that they tell us to “till and keep” the garden of the world (cf. Genesis 2:15). “Tilling” refers to cultivating, ploughing or working, while “keeping” means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving. This implies a relationship of mutual responsibility between human beings and nature. Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations. “The earth is the Lord’s” (Psalm. 24:1); “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with me” (Leviticus 25:23).
68. The laws found in the Bible dwell on relationships, not only among individuals but also with other living beings. “You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fallen down by the way and withhold your help… If you chance to come upon a bird’s nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting upon the young or upon the eggs; you shall not take the mother with the young” (Dt 22:4, 6). Along these same lines, rest on the seventh day is meant not only for human beings, but also so “that your ox and your donkey may have rest” (Exodus 23:12). Clearly, the Bible has no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism unconcerned for other creatures.
69. We are called to recognise that other living beings have a value of their own in God’s eyes and indeed, “the Lord rejoices in all his works” (Psalm 104:31). By virtue of our unique dignity and our gift of intelligence, we are called to respect creation and its inherent laws, for “the Lord by wisdom founded the earth” (Proverbs 3:19).The Catechism clearly and forcefully criticises a distorted anthropocentrism: “Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection… Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things”.
Biology is much more than we might have been taught at school, its remit is the whole of creation, as Pope Francis makes clear here. It may look at lab experiments but has also to get out in the field, observe what’s going on and predict what is likely to happen if humans continue to act as we have been doing. The future must not be entrusted to multinational corporations.
35. Highways, new plantations, the fencing-off of certain areas, the damming of water sources, and similar developments, crowd out natural habitats and, at times, break them up in such a way that animal populations can no longer migrate or roam freely. As a result, some species face extinction. Alternatives exist which at least lessen the impact of these projects, like the creation of biological corridors, but few countries demonstrate such concern and foresight.
36. Caring for ecosystems demands farsightedness, since no one looking for quick and easy profit is truly interested in their preservation. We can be silent witnesses to terrible injustices if we think that we can obtain significant benefits by making the rest of humanity, present and future, pay the extremely high costs of environmental deterioration.
37. Some countries have made significant progress in establishing sanctuaries on land and in the oceans. Certain places need greater protection because of their immense importance for the global ecosystem, or because they represent important water reserves and thus safeguard other forms of life.
38. Let us mention, for example, those richly biodiverse lungs of our planet which are the Amazon and the Congo basins, or the great aquifers and glaciers. We know how important these are for the entire earth and for the future of humanity. The ecosystems of tropical forests possess an enormously complex biodiversity which is almost impossible to appreciate fully, yet when these forests are burned down or levelled for purposes of cultivation, within the space of a few years countless species are lost and the areas frequently become arid wastelands. A delicate balance has to be maintained when speaking about these places, for we cannot overlook the huge global economic interests which, under the guise of protecting them, can undermine the sovereignty of individual nations. We cannot fail to praise the commitment of international agencies and civil society organisations which draw public attention to these issues and offer critical cooperation, employing legitimate means of pressure, to ensure that each government carries out its proper and inalienable responsibility to preserve its country’s environment and natural resources, without capitulating to spurious local or international interests.
Sheila Billingsley has sent us a poem about the great golden cloud that descends on Southern England and elsewhere at this time of year – oilseed rape, a member of the cabbage family and the source of much of the vegetable oil on supermarket and kitchen shelves. It’s actually a staple of our diet, keeps us alive, so deserves a poem of its own.
Do you then reflect the sun ?
Out-- buttering the buttercups.
You gild our fields and hillsides
With your glory!
Your down-to-earth mothering
To feed yet glorify the earth.
There must be-----somewhere----
In God's eternal memory,
Another, golden name.
SB February 2021
Ines’s foreshortened view of Canterbury crosses a patch of bright yellow oilseed rape, or colza as the French call it. I don’t know that colza is quite the golden name that Sheila was looking for; it won’t catch on!
The photograph above is by Myrabella, and shows a crop of colza – or oilseed rape – in Burgundy, France.