Amy Jones,
Agape Coordinator
Dear God, we come to worship you today. 
We come to pray, and listen.
You always hear us. 
Help us to hear you. Amen
Isa 11:1-10

A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
  and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
  the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
  the spirit of counsel and might,
  the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
  or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
  and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
  and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
  and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
  the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
  and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
  their young shall lie down together;
  and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
  and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
  on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
  as the waters cover the sea.
On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples;
the nations shall inquire of him,
and his dwelling shall be glorious.

On Sundays, The Daily podcast airs audio versions of long-form journalism. This week the Sunday read was The Social Life of Forests, written by Ferris Jabr. I loved The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben and have listened multiple times to RadioLab’s episode, From Tree to Shining Tree. Botany always feels mystical to me. 

Canadian ecologist Suzanne Simard describes how trees are linked by an underground fungal network. Her work, which is becoming more mainstream, describes how dying trees relinquish nutrients to saplings, or how trees can aid a tree under attack by one pathogen or another by offering nutrients even to their own detriment. The premise that forests are communities of generosity, cooperation, balanced symbiosis, and careful communication runs counter to Darwinian claims that our planet is fueled by scarcity, competition, and “survival of the fittest.” The concepts of plant communication are so far outside how humans think about intellect that it can seem fantastical. Learning things like this have taught me that if I can suspend what I think I know about the world around me, I may discover something new about myself, too.

Peace is a buzz word this time of year. When I hear people talk about peace, I think they are usually talking about the cessation of something. An end to violence, war. Parents plead for “peace and quiet,” or an end to noise. We seek peace on vacation, where email and voicemail can’t follow us. In every instance, it seems like peace is about something we will stop or something we wish we would stop.

What struck me about the contrast between Simard’s work and Darwin is that “survival of the fittest” assumes the only way to thrive is for weaker groups or individuals to fade. It seems to me that there is not much peace in this kind of constant striving to thrive. By contrast, the forest community that Simard describes grows stronger with negotiation, reciprocity, selflessness and generosity. If peace were a verb, I think it would be characterized by forests.

Peter Wohlleben talks about trees as “life in the slow lane.” It makes me wonder if we could slow down enough to consider how skills like cooperation, negotiation, and reciprocity could benefit a whole community with symbiosis if we would understand peace more deeply. I wonder if representatives for peace are in our backyards. Maybe peace is something we can only learn from non-human life around us.

I hope you’ll suspend what you think you know about the world around you long enough to experience “life in the slow lane,” and maybe find examples of peace around you, too.
Prince of peace, give us the wisdom to see how the Spirit envelopes all living things in it’s whisper of truth. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear where peace is built into the created order of our world. Amen.
Amy Jones
Amy Jones, Agape Coordinator
Amy Jones our Agape Coordinator is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. In this tradition, deacons are ordained clergy who bridge the ministry of the church with the needs of the world, and vice versa. In more than 15 years of ministry, she has worked in churches, in children and family ministry, higher education, and nonprofits. In each setting, her focus has been on matching the resources of the church with the needs of the world. Agape Community Kitchen is exactly the type of work she was called to do. 

Amy can be reached by email at:
The Presbyterian Church in Westfield continues to burn as a light in the darkness as our community weathers this fearsome storm of illness. Our reach of care continues to extend far beyond our immediate borders. You can help us make a real impact in the lives of others by joining in our work through your time, your talents, and also in the fruits of your labors.
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