The Red Couch: Soil and Sacrament Introduction


June-RedCouch-750This past weekend I headed to the neighborhood farmers market to pick up my CSA (community supported agriculture) box. It’s my third year getting a half-share. Every other Saturday morning I drive over to the market and make my way through vendors until I arrive at my chosen farmer’s stand. I then carry the box back to my car and spend the next hour or so processing the food.

The box contained strawberries, cucumbers, green onions, two varieties of kale, collard greens, and lettuce. I’ve got fingers crossed for some basil next time around but I’m ever at the mercy of their fields and the season.

I’m the only person in my house so food must be eaten, frozen, or canned, preferably while it’s at its freshest. This has become the rhythm of my spring, summer, and fall.

I love supporting farmers—we boast a family farm on my mother’s side—and there are a plethora of other reasons why a CSA makes sense for me. It’s helped me eat more fruits and vegetables and expand my palate. I still don’t like beets but I’ve found a way to relish everything else. It’s been good for me, body and soul. But there’s a part of me that wishes I could be in charge of my produce.

As a renter, I don’t get many opportunities to plunge my hands into soil or harvest the bounty. Occasionally I’ll help a friend with their garden and this is usually enough to sate me. At least until I’ve picked up the fourth CSA box crammed with greens and bemoaned my lot. Don’t get me wrong: I love all kinds of greens but there’s a limit to how many varietals one person can eat in a short span of time. I’m constantly trying new recipes to keep collards, kale, and lettuce interesting.

I find gardening to be therapeutic and calming. It reminds me about the mystery of food: watching a seed transform in to a plant which transforms in to nourishment.

That’s what I want us to keep in mind as we begin this month’s read Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith. How are we nourished by food and faith? How do we do these things well?

I don’t believe there’s a one-size-fits-all answer. What works for me might not work for you, whether what we eat or how we worship. But it’s good for us to wrestle with these questions and that is part of what Fred Bahnson does in his memoir.

Bahnson gives us a glimpse into the agrarian life and the ways this both fulfilled and depleted him, ultimately sending him on a quest to see how other faith communities live out their beliefs about spiritual and physical nourishment.

I read Soil and Sacrament last fall and it deeply resonated with me. I hope the same will be true for you.

And next time you eat some kale or Swiss chard, think of me fondly and send a recipe my way. I’m determined to enjoy every green adorning my plate.


Next week we’re announcing our Third Quarter books! Come back Wednesday June 18 for a reflection post led by Cara Meredith. The discussion post, led by Sarah Caldwell, will be up Wednesday June 25. Join the Facebook group to share quotes and discuss the book throughout the month. On Twitter, the official Red Couch Book Club hashtag is #redcouchbc.

The Nightstand at SheLoves Magazine


Will you be reading Soil and Sacrament with us?

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Leigh Kramer
Leigh Kramer is on a quest; she’s living life on purpose. Her to-do list might look something like this: leave life in the Midwest for Nashville, Tennessee, followed by San Francisco, quit steady job as a social worker to chase her dreams of writing, suck the marrow out of life’s in-between places and revel in the now at every turn. Leigh shares this journey through words of transparency, heart, and just a dash of pluck at and on Twitter at @hopefulleigh.
Leigh Kramer

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