It’s been a rich few weeks. An encouraging, exhausting, and inspiring few weeks. On June 20th, I had the great privilege of enjoying the intersection of two families I love: the Story Warren community and our Charlotte community. The weeks leading up to Inkwell were exciting and hectic (Did we really sign up to do this?), but the fruit that was produced is feeding the souls of families across the country. We planned, we executed, we collapsed.
Three days after our staff sang the final blessing over the 250 attendees and their families, I boarded a plane headed for Philadelphia. I was on my way to meet with a small group of twenty-four folks who were coming from quite literally all over the world. The purpose of our time together? To meet and discuss what Culture Care looks like in our regions. You are my region. Let me explain.
A few years ago, I had the good fortune to meet Makoto Fujimura – an internationally acclaimed artist, writer, and activist. I should add that he’s an incredibly humble soul with an infectious smile. After that initial meeting, our paths intersected on a number of occasions. He met my husband and children. Our conversations led to more questions than answers, but the questions were keys unlocking doors of discovery. Mako’s thinking and writing began to influence mine. Significantly.
We live in an age marked by culture wars. We want to change the metaphor of culture from a territory that is to be fought over to a garden that is to be nurtured. . . May our work be seeds into the soil of culture. Better yet, may these conversations strengthen our hands to cultivate that soil, so that the good seed can take root deeply and flourish. May our cultural garden, our cultural orchard, become a place of shelter for many creatures, including our own grandchildren.” Makoto Fujimura, Culture Care
Do you see the shift? Consider the latest divisive issue. What would it look like if we shifted from a posture of “fighting the enemy” to “tending the garden?” If we stopped blaming and started nurturing?
The purpose of the Leadership Summit was to gather leaders from all over the world to share stories of how they’ve experienced (and facilitated) the idea of Culture Care as it takes on flesh and breathes life into communities. Shortly before the gathering, I received an email requesting a presentation on my region. That would be you.
It was my great honor and joy to share – right alongside stories from Japan and India and Hong Kong and Australia and other corners of the world – the chronicle of our Story Warren community. Particularly given the cultural climate in our country today. As the newsreel recounts the destructive toll of our country’s verbal civil wars, there is a larger, more hopeful narrative that is being woven. The story that began at Creation and will end with Redemption. And we get to take part in and bear witness to the everyday mending.
“Since the awful day King Jupiter fell and the Great Wood was lost to tyranny, our world has been wounded to its heart. No greater peril has existed for us since Whitson Mariner’s trekkers first came into this place. There are secret citadels, though only a few, which have kept alive a hope of invading and retaking the Great Wood. I wish them well, and part of my sewing and mending goes to support them. But there’s another kind of mending that must be done. This place is full of farmers, artists, carpenters, midwives, cooks, poets, healers, singers, smiths, weavers – workers of all kinds. We’re all doing our part.”
“But what good will all that do?” Heather asked. “Shouldn’t everyone fight for the Great Wood – for King Jupiter’s cause?”
“Sure we should,” Mrs. Weaver said. “In a sense. Some must bear arms and that is their calling. But this,” she motioned back to the mountain behind her, “this is a place dedicated to the reasons why some must fight. Here we anticipate the Mended Wood, the Great Wood healed. Those painters are seeing, but it’s a different kind of sight. They anticipate the Mended Wood. So do all in this community, in our various ways.
“We sing about it. We paint it. We make crutches and soups and have gardens and weddings and babies. This is a place out of time. A window into the past and future world. We are heralds, you see, my dear, saying what will surely come. And we prepare with all our might, to be ready when once again we are free.”
S. D. Smith, The Green Ember
If the need for healthy soil is crucial to caring well for our culture, I can think of no soil more foundational than the hearts and minds of our children. At Story Warren, we hope to inspire, encourage, and equip parents as you cultivate holy imagination in your families. In doing so, we all become more fully human. And as a natural byproduct, we have the great honor of tending the garden and witnessing human flourishing. Life from death. Beauty from ashes. Hope from despair.
We live in troubled times. We have, really, since the Fall. The enemy hisses lies, as he’s always done, and perhaps the biggest of them all is that God is not good and the fate of the Kingdom is uncertain. We panic as the darkness (temporarily) limits our vision.
But we’re not powerless.
We can light a candle.
By creating something new. A drawing, a garden, chocolate cake.
By bringing order out of chaos. In an overgrown lawn. In the boardroom. In the mis-matched sock basket.
By building a bridge. Across the dinner table. Across the street. Across political and social ravines that divide us.
By feeding our own imaginations and those of our children – so we can dare to see the world as it one day will be.
Join us as we choose hope by becoming stewards of our culture. We are grateful to have you in the family. And thanks to the folks at International Arts Movement, the family just got a little bit bigger.
You can learn more about the International Arts Movement here.