Composting Bad Theology

Dear friends,
So one of my favorite Buddhist meditations instructs the practitioner to meditate on your own corpse. How’s that for a non-cute and sentimental Advent reflection! There are a lot of Zen koans telling students to go and sit in graveyards and hang out in other liminal places. What is this about? I think it relativizes the one who is meditating. It puts our life and our life’s work in perspective. It reminds us that the big Silence is at the beginning and end of our lives and we move and breathe always in this ‘in between’ space.
I am finding myself reflecting this week, in random moments while driving or doing laundry or wherever, on what is happening in our composter which we reinstalled in the little garden by the Kidd Springs rec center on Sunday. What is in there? Dried leaves gathered at CliffFest. Scraps of paper which we collected from the community, the Emerging Christianity Conference and Sunday’s worship: bits of bad theology people want to leave behind, as well as wounds, fears and anything else people wanted to toss in there. We promised to turn it into something good for them.
That’s a pretty important promise. So we added eggshells and grapefruit rinds and tea leaves and apple cores on Sunday and turned it around a few times. I hope you will add more. (Here are guidelines on what to compost)
I find it comforting to think of people’s bad theology getting all soggy and beginning to rot. Of wounds getting wet and fears starting to smell putrid. And of all of it heating up in the winter sun in that black tumbler. On its way to becoming something else.
One of the prayers from the new Common Prayer book we discussed last week has a line about how touching humus, the end product of composting, makes us more human. That keeps cycling through my thoughts as well. Let us make some humus together, some life-force for the soil, and let us meditate on holy and warm darkness this week. Darkness that is wet and fully of possibility, like a womb.
The world is full of little mantras: Nothing is Wasted, Humus makes us Human. What are your mantras or centering prayers this week? I think the Spirit is always gifting us with ways to connect to this moment and to our small place in the cosmic picture.
Now, that would be a place to land but maybe it is too simple a stopping point. Because this week I am also reflecting on Genny’s comment on Sunday about how we should be careful exhorting each other to self-empty as part of our practice. Or at minimum we should qualify that statement.
She is right; there is good self-emptying and bad self-emptying. Stated differently, there are likely seasons of self-emptying and seasons when we need to be filled anew. Seasons to break down our inner scraps and seasons to apply rich, delicious-smelling compost to the base of our tender shoots. Both practices are knitted together, two halves of a whole.
But it is critical that you know which season you are in. Often I think the people who need to be filled up by the church are the ones who hear the self-emptying message. And those whose egos need to be broken down a bit only meditate on how God can make them feel good.
So my prayer for us this week is that we can be a community of discernment. That we can help each other settle in on our spiritual work this season of preparation-whether it be a time to strip away or a time to build up or likely, a time to do a bit of both.
I look forward to continuing to walk with you all.
Peace and all the good,
PS. I’m looking forward to smores and a lesson from Jen on what’s in and what’s out of the blue bin, tonight! 7pm. 214.233-4605 for directions or info!

Community Events
TONIGHT! Recycling Party, 7pm
Not sure if plastic number 7 is recyclable? Looking for places to return plastic bags? Wonder what to do with lids? Jen Mauldin, certified green architect and lovely human, is hosting a party to answer all questions about the blue bin. Come to learn what’s in and what’s out. (And get the chance to create a Christmas ornament out of recycled paper!) Dress warm, bring chocolate for smores, and drinks to share!
Dec 15 Gobs of Cob Party, 7pm
Catalina and Luis host and direct Art of Peace, a home-based learning community for young children in the heart of Oak Cliff. They are designing and building a sustainable classroom in their backyard using a very old method of building with earth. Cob is quite similar to adobe, but instead of creating uniform blocks cob is normally applied by hand in large gobs (or cobs) which can be tossed from one person to another during the building process. Sound fun? Come to share a meal and get intimate with some cob. 432 Marshalldell Ave
Dec 22 CitC Christmas Eve and Electronic Recycling Service 7pm
Scott and Lisa host our Christmas Eve gathering. (We know it’s a little early but some peeps are going out of town.) Join us for a simple service, meal, and candles. And bring your unwanted electronics– printers, cell phones, whatever you’ve got! We’ll recycle them. Children welcome! 221 S. Edgefield Ave
All throughout Advent you will find our CitC composter in the small garden by west entrance to Kidd Springs Rec Center. Drop off your veggie scraps and coffee grounds and come worship with us! 11:08 am. 711 W. Canty

Church in the Cliff Board   
Ross Prater, Moderator
Damon Petite, Treasurer
Kristin Schutz, Clerk
James Fairchild, Trustee
Stephanie Maxson, Trustee

Please contact Kristin Schutz, clerk at or moderator Ross Prater, at with any questions or feedback.

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