Wow! I cannot believe so much time has passed since my last post here. Part of it is in trying to find my feet as a blogger. Sometimes I think that what I write about will not be of interest to anybody so why write it? And then I think, if I work at this daily, if I take up the blogging challenge posted by Live Your Legend, there is a potential for this to evolve into something more than just a daily account of life on the homestead. Not that there is anything wrong with that but I also want to help people with my blog, to bring awareness to certain issues, to educate, to explore and experiment, even to restore faith. Over the past few months I have been brainstorming. And this morning I re-read some of my posts–again! (The eternal perfectionist I tend to re-read them a lot!) What I realized was that I have been hiding behind The Herbal Hare, an impersonal entity.
What is The Herbal Hare? It is the homestead itself. It is also the name of a fledgling business but I am more than The Herbal Hare and my blog should be, too. So, as the title suggests, let me introduce myself.
My name is Lisa Burbank. I am ordained minister, having received my ordination online through the Universal Life Church Monastery October 31, 2012. The date is ironic as I had spent a number of years practicing Wicca. October 31st is more popularly known as Halloween. For a Wiccan, it is Samhain, a most important holiday for that religion. Unlike many born-agains, though, I do not lament my study and practice in this nature-based religion. I am grateful for it! I started off taking a course at the local community college entitled “Intro to Wicca” to overcome the fear that our society typically has towards Wicca and came away with an abiding sense of respect and appreciation for it. However, He has been leading me in a different direction and so, I follow Him. Actually, even when I practiced Wicca I still kept Him in my sights. I never really “converted”. I simply added some of those nature-based practices to my spiritual life. I am part-Mohawk and part-Narragansett Indian so, while I was never raised within the tribe, perhaps the similarities between Wicca and Native American spirituality resonated with some ancestral core. Either way, I am happy that my journey through this life has taken me down this lovely road.
As for the ordination, well, the initial reason I paid the $45 for it was to circumvent some red tape for practicing Reflexology, Reiki and Touch for Health. None of the aforementioned bodyworks are massage but, not knowing how to categorize them otherwise, they are typically lumped in with it. I earn a very MODEST living from the three; too little to justify the expense so I became ordained. But it is interesting how He uses even those moments when we lack integrity. One of my earlier posts talks about facing foreclosure and then, later, how I wheeled and dealed with God, vowing that I would become the best minister possible if He would help me save the homestead. He did. And I enrolled at Grand Canyon University in their Biblical Studies degree program to fulfill that vow. I think that is the last update on my schooling in this blog (if not, forgive the redundancy). Since then, He has led me to switch degree programs and, consequently, universities. I am now enrolled in Southern New Hampshire University, earning my Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing with an Emphasis on Fictional Writing. And life just seems to be coming together. Suddenly, my confidence levels are, well, not exactly soaring but definitely on the rise. I’m doing something I love. I am writing again. And I am still serving as a minister. Though I do not lead my own church yet–and that may be something that never happens (more on that later), I have been giving graveside services and that is a very rewarding experience. I have also started an ongoing food drive to help support the local food pantry. For every canned or dry goods’ item you bring in for your treatment in either Reflexology, Reiki and Touch for Health, I take $1 off the fee. It may not sound like much at first but, even 10 boxes of Jello will take $10 off of your session. And, having been a recipient numerous times at said food pantry since my downsizing from Corporate America, I hope to really be able to give back.
The Food Pantry.
One would think that someone homesteading wouldn’t have any need for such a place. I hope one day this homestead produces enough food for Mom & I and our 4-legged menagerie that we won’t have to rely on it. But it takes years to develop a working homestead. And, while Mom is here, she’s not really into this homesteading thing. In fact, everything she does seems to be counter-intuitive. So I am still a single woman homesteader and every step forward seems to be followed by a few back as each new learning curve is revealed. And these learning curves are not just about homesteading. The Good Lord is using these difficulties to mold and shape me…perhaps so I can be a better minister.
When I first started visiting the food pantry, I did so with shame. It seemed a sin past bearing to have to “beg”. But my first and only season as a tour guide at a local museum ended and, with it, my only source of income. There was not enough time to save enough to make it through the winter months until the next season started. Starvation was a very real possibility. So I went. And I went with an attitude that our society seems to perpetuate–that most of the people there were rejects and lazy bodies sponging off of the government and good will rather than working. I felt like that myself. I had always given to similar organizations. How had my world become so topsy-turvy? But, as I visited each month, and got to know some of the familiar faces, I realized that my attitude needed a little adjusting. Oh, sure, there are plenty of single moms who cannot feed the multitude of children they already have and are pregnant again, with or without the father–I’ve seen both–and, yes, some are simply lazy, but there are plenty more who are simply out of work and/or under-employed. There are a lot of elderly whose social security checks do not cover all of their living expenses. There are also a lot of disabled individuals. One gentleman is Deaf. Another is older, severely-crippled and, despite his handicap, qualifies for a measly $16 per month from the SNAP program. (How on earth does anyone eat for a month on $16??) One girl is blind. Many are capable workers but few employers are capable of seeing beyond their challenges. He has been slowly peeling away the layers of pride, arrogance and, yes, even ignorance from my eyes. I now see these individuals as people. Not that I didn’t before but I saw them with preconceived notions. Now I am proud to call many of them friends and I am saddened that, as one of the richest countries in the world (if not the richest), we still have so many who are hungry and destitute. I would love to figure out a way to reform our “system”. I know others have tried but it outrages me to see so many without the most basic necessities. Nobody should have to go hungry. And so many of the people I meet at the pantry want to work. They are simply too old, too infirm. There are a lot of reasons. I don’t know how to help but I will find a way. If He leads me to it, He will lead me through it.
Another outrage is, sadly, that most of the food donated to the pantry is packaged and processed. Granted, all those additives and preservatives provide a longer shelf-life and, for those in such dire straits, that becomes an important consideration. The pantry does supplement though with donated produce from local farmers and I know of at least 2 of them who grow their produce organically. They also receive vouchers to the local farmers’ markets in the summer months and offer recipes for healthy meals. But I think this is a growing problem in our country. I read in my Environmental Science textbook that municipalities typically locate dumps in the poorest sections of town so the highest concentration of greenhouse gasses, toxins, and contamination of ground water, etc. afflicts our so-called “low income” housing facilities (Cunningham & Cunningham, 2015). The same is true for our food supply. I understand that there may be some red tape involved, licensing, etc. that drives the cost of organic food skywards. But that just seems so upside down. I am reminded of a line from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” about decreasing the surplus population. It seems our society seeks to do just that. But how does one balance the need for healthier food for our poorest citizens versus the “convenience” these packaged entrees provide for the working, single parent? I used to spend my Sundays cooking for the week. I would freeze what I cooked/baked in single portion containers and then simply heat it up as needed. It saved money. It saved time during the work week. And I ate healthier. But it also took the whole afternoon. And, for many single parents–and even in homes where both parents are present–this may not be a practical solution when the demands for quality family time come to the fore. However, it is a step in the right direction. I heard a quote recently–I’m going to paraphrase a bit. But it was something to the effect that if you want to help someone to eat, it is better to teach them how to fish than to give them the fish. Now it is just a matter of figuring out how.
God bless you & keep you!
Cunningham, W. & Cunningham, M.A. (2015) Environmental Science: A Global Concern, 13th Edition. McGraw-Hill: New York.