December 21, 2011

“Holy Scripture, brethren, cries out to us, saying, ‘Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled,and he who humbles himself shall be exalted’ (Luke 14:11). In saying this it shows us that all exaltation is a kind of pride, against which the Prophet proves himself to be on guard when he says, ‘Lord, my heart is not exalted, nor are mine eyes lifted up; neither have I walked in great matters, nor in wonders above me'” (Ps. 131:1).

The Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 7

Just in case you assumed that St. Benedict and I would never have any arguments, I’m here to let you know that he and I don’t always agree. You would think that his chapter on humility would get me all gooey and weepy, that I’d be crying to myself about how far I have to go in the contemplative life. And, I probably will end up crying about my need for humility, but not because St. Benedict has inspired me to.

Chapter 7 lists 12 intense steps to humility. They’re not for the faint of heart and they include a lot of talk of hellfire and fear. See, his emphasis in Chapter 7 is heavy on on fear of hell directing the monks toward humility. It’s an emphasis that runs very close to self-hate, which doesn’t mesh with the kind of humility I see in Jesus.

The humility I see in Jesus is led by love. Love for the Father results in love for others. The kind of love for others that is sincere allows us to see the people around us (as Christ instructed) as Jesus himself. And that leads to action.

If Benedict and I agree on anything in Chapter 7 it’s that humble action leads to humility. If we want to get our minds off ourselves, then we sacrifice, we give up our comforts and offer ourselves. We serve with our hands. We cook for others; we wash dishes. We, as Benedict says, make the choice that, like Christ, “I have come not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me” (John 6:38).

Humility, then, becomes reality, seeing things as they really are: Not that we’re worthless, but that we are desperately beloved. We have been rescued by our creator, who became flesh and gave himself for us. So we, in our flesh, give ourselves away.

Oh, Benedict, I want to whisper to you that those 12 steps are wonderful, it’s just your motivation that’s off, friend. Humility is not born of fear but of joy.

In December 20th’s reading of Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas, Brennan Manning shares a story of Saint Francis and Brother Leo walking down the road. Francis has noticed that Brother Leo is depressed and Leo has admitted to being overwhelmed of the work of “ever arriving at purity of heart.” St. Francis responds:

“Leo, listen carefully to me.  Don’t be so preoccupied with the purity of your heart. Turn and look at Jesus. Admire him. Rejoice that he is what he is–your Brother, your Friend, your Lord and Savior. That, little brother, is what it means to be pure of heart. And once you’ve turned to Jesus, don’t turn back and look at yourself. Don’t wonder where you stand with him.

“The sadness of not being perfect, the discovery that you really are sinful, is a feeling much too human, even borders on idolatry. Focus your vision outside yourself on the beauty, graciousness and compassion of Jesus Christ. The pure of heart praise him from sunrise to sundown. Even when they feel broken, feeble, distracted, insecure and uncertain, they are able to release it into his peace. A heart like that is stripped and filled — stripped of self and filled with the fullness of God. It is enough that Jesus is Lord.”

After a long pause, Leo said, “Still, Francis, the Lord demands our effort and fidelity.”

“No doubt about that,” replied Francis. “But holiness is not a personal achievement. It’s an emptiness you discover in yourself. Instead of resenting it, you accept it and it becomes the free space where the Lord can create anew…Renounce everything that is heavy, even the weight of your sins. See only the compassion, the infinite patience, and the tender love of Christ. Jesus is Lord. That suffices. Your guilt and reproach disappear into the nothingness of non-attention. You are not longer aware of yourself. Like the sparrow aloft and free in the azure sky. Even the desire for holiness is transformed into a pure and simple desire for Jesus.”

Oh, that this Christmas we might renounce everything that is heavy and see in our newborn Savior “the compassion, the infinite patience, and the tender love” that changes us…the love that brings us to true and deep humility.

July 11, 2013

My Dearest Benedict,

You and I didn’t meet in the regular way. I wasn’t making lifelong vows in a sacred space, a cross pressed to my chest, holy fingers on my forehead.

Instead, I was soaking in an Epson salt bath, recovering from birthing a child. (Something I’m guessing, you encountered little of in your cloistered life. Though, of course, who can be sure?) I was reading a book and stumbled on a few lines about you. Maybe one sentence? It was about how you believed there was enough time. How you always believed there was enough time.

Oh, Benedict, I longed for you to be right. Of course, what would you say about our lives today? My four-year-old playing Angry Birds on his grandfather’s iPhone? What would you say about my staying up late tonight, coffee in hand, to write this post about you? What would you say about how tired I am, how I’m relying on caffeine to get me through my work? What would say about the noise of this world I was born into?

There is enough time, you’d say: Enough time for work, for prayer, for rest, for study.

You’re known for your reasonableness. Reason is something I need more of in my life. I come from a culture of Christianity that says if you love Jesus you must shout it really loud. The louder you shout, the more Jesus will be glorified. You, Benedict, said humility was the key to Glory. You said it’s better to keep quiet.

I come from a culture that says, Go out by yourself and do something great for God! Do something big and individual and prove your worth! You came to me holding out the quiet goodness of community, of hard work, of prayer.

I come from a culture of belief that says the most important work is the tasks I do for God. You said nothing counts more than the love I have for Christ. You said the “Work of God” is prayer.

I come from a culture that says Pray long and elaborate!, a culture that wants me to prove how well I know God by the holy order of my words. You said to keep prayer short.

I come from a culture that demands we do good deeds from a distance: short term mission trips, twice a year work at the Food Bank, money passed in clean and tidy ways. You said that every guest should be considered Christ. You spread the doors of your home wide open. There was always room, always food for the traveler.

Benedict, you imposed “nothing harsh or burdensome,” even when the culture around you demanded penance, demanded solitude in the far-off caves. You offered kindness, gentleness, charity. That’s why I heard your words and clung to them that day in my bathtub. In that moment, I was not sealed into a flock of brethren. I was not blessed by sacred hands and ushered into a new name and new robes. But I discovered that you and I had a lot more in common than I ever would have believed. Your words have walked with me through these early years of childrearing. You might not agree with me, but Brother, you have a Mother’s heart. You gathered and gathered and look at us: We are still being gathered into your fold, your cloister.

Thank you for offering a world to me I had never imagined: the hope of quiet faith and severe hospitality. I have found in your words a beautiful perspective of time and work and God’s sweet goodness.

I don’t know how to go about celebrating a saint on his feast day. You probably can’t imagine this, but we Protestants don’t usually do that sort of thing. I imagine, though, that in celebration I should do what you’ve taught me: Practice gentle humility.

The cloistered life is the gentle life, after all. I’ll dress my boys for bed here at my parents’ home. I say a blessing over their heads, like any faithful priest. I’ll visit my grandfather in his nursing home bed, where he lies uncertain and a bit confused. I’ll run my fingers through his hair like I do my little boys and sing the old invitation hymns to him while he falls asleep, his mouth curled tight around the empty space where his false teeth have been removed.

And, like you would do, I’m sure, Benedict, I’ll raise my thumb to his ancient forehead, run it down and across his wrinkled lines. I’ll mark him with the cross, a blessing for an old man in the in-between, a man who told me Jesus would be coming for him soon.

I’ll sing quiet, like a monk chanting ancient Psalms: Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me. And that will be my celebration, Benedict. As quiet and simple a celebration as you would require.

Yours,

Micha

For more on St. Benedict, read the series I wrote on Benedict’s Rule here.
February 7, 2013

Friends, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about our favorite, St. Benedict, this week for my side project. I’ve been thinking a lot about what made his Rule radical, how choosing to value moderation over zealousness and compassion over the enforcement of harsh commitments within the monastery, allowed (and continues to allow) countless people to experience the kindness of Christ. I’m still learning what it means to value moderation and compassion as a follower of Jesus, but I feel like coming back to this post from this past summer (on July 12, the day after his actual feast day), and being grateful for way kindness wins in the Kingdom of God.

My Dearest Benedict,

You and I didn’t meet in the regular way. I wasn’t making lifelong vows in a sacred space, a cross pressed to my chest, holy fingers on my forehead.

Instead, I was soaking in an Epson salt bath, recovering from birthing a child. (Something I’m guessing, you encountered little of in your cloistered life. Though, of course, who can be sure?) I was reading a book and stumbled on a few lines about you. Maybe one sentence? It was about how you believed there was enough time. How you always believed there was enough time.

Oh, Benedict, I longed for you to be right. Of course, what would you say about our lives today? My four-year-old playing Angry Birds on his grandfather’s iPhone? What would you say about my staying up late tonight, coffee in hand, to write this post about you? What would you say about how tired I am, how I’m relying on caffeine to get me through my work? What would say about the noise of this world I was born into?

There is enough time, you’d say: Enough time for work, for prayer, for rest, for study.

You’re known for your reasonableness. Reason is something I need more of in my life. I come from a culture of Christianity that says if you love Jesus you must shout it really loud. The louder you shout, the more Jesus will be glorified. You, Benedict, said humility was the key to Glory. You said it’s better to keep quiet.

I come from a culture that says, Go out by yourself and do something great for God! Do something big and individual and prove your worth! You came to me holding out the quiet goodness of community, of hard work, of prayer.

I come from a culture of belief that says the most important work is the tasks I do for God. You said nothing counts more than the love I have for Christ. You said the “Work of God” is prayer.

I come from a culture that says Pray long and elaborate!, a culture that wants me to prove how well I know God by the holy order of my words. You said to keep prayer short.

I come from a culture that demands we do good deeds from a distance: short term mission trips, twice a year work at the Food Bank, money passed in clean and tidy ways. You said that every guest should be considered Christ. You spread the doors of your home wide open. There was always room, always food for the traveler.

Benedict, you imposed “nothing harsh or burdensome,” even when the culture around you demanded penance, demanded solitude in the far-off caves. You offered kindness, gentleness, charity. That’s why I heard your words and clung to them that day in my bathtub. In that moment, I was not sealed into a flock of brethren. I was not blessed by sacred hands and ushered into a new name and new robes. But I discovered that you and I had a lot more in common than I ever would have believed. Your words have walked with me through these early years of childrearing. You might not agree with me, but Brother, you have a Mother’s heart. You gathered and gathered and look at us: We are still being gathered into your fold, your cloister.

Thank you for offering a world to me I had never imagined: the hope of quiet faith and severe hospitality. I have found in your words a beautiful perspective of time and work and God’s sweet goodness.

I don’t know how to go about celebrating a saint on his feast day. You probably can’t imagine this, but we Protestants don’t usually do that sort of thing. I imagine, though, that in celebration I should do what you’ve taught me: Practice gentle humility.

The cloistered life is the gentle life, after all. I’ll dress my boys for bed here at my parents’ home. I say a blessing over their heads, like any faithful priest. I’ll visit my grandfather in his nursing home bed, where he lies uncertain and a bit confused. I’ll run my fingers through his hair like I do my little boys and sing the old invitation hymns to him while he falls asleep, his mouth curled tight around the empty space where his false teeth have been removed.

And, like you would do, I’m sure, Benedict, I’ll raise my thumb to his ancient forehead, run it down and across his wrinkled lines. I’ll mark him with the cross, a blessing for an old man in the in-between, a man who told me Jesus would be coming for him soon.

I’ll sing quiet, like a monk chanting ancient Psalms: Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me. And that will be my celebration, Benedict. As quiet and simple a celebration as you would require.

 

Yours,

Micha

 

For more on St. Benedict, read the series I wrote on Benedict’s Rule here.
July 12, 2012

My Dearest Benedict,


You and I didn’t meet in the regular way. I wasn’t making lifelong vows in a sacred space, a cross pressed to my chest, holy fingers on my forehead.

Instead, I was soaking in an Epson salt bath, recovering from birthing a child. (Something I’m guessing, you encountered little of in your cloistered life. Though, of course, who can be sure?) I was reading a book and stumbled on a few lines about you. Maybe one sentence? It was about how you believed there was enough time. How you always believed there was enough time.

Oh, Benedict, I longed for you to be right. Of course, what would you say about our lives today? My four-year-old playing Angry Birds on his grandfather’s iPhone? What would you say about my staying up late tonight, coffee in hand, to write this post about you? What would you say about how tired I am, how I’m relying on caffeine to get me through my work? What would say about the noise of this world I was born into?

There is enough time, you’d say: Enough time for work, for prayer, for rest, for study.

You’re known for your reasonableness. Reason is something I need more of in my life. I come from a culture of Christianity that says if you love Jesus you must shout it really loud. The louder you shout, the more Jesus will be glorified. You, Benedict, said humility was the key to Glory. You said it’s better to keep quiet.

I come from a culture that says, Go out by yourself and do something great for God! Do something big and individual and prove your worth! You came to me holding out the quiet goodness of community, of hard work, of prayer.

I come from a culture of belief that says the most important work is the tasks I do for God. You said nothing counts more than the love I have for Christ. You said the “Work of God” is prayer.

I come from a culture that says Pray long and elaborate!, a culture that wants me to prove how well I know God by the holy order of my words. You said to keep prayer short.

I come from a culture that demands we do good deeds from a distance: short term mission trips, twice a year work at the Food Bank, money passed in clean and tidy ways. You said that every guest should be considered Christ. You spread the doors of your home wide open. There was always room, always food for the traveler.

Benedict, you imposed “nothing harsh or burdensome,” even when the culture around you demanded penance, demanded solitude in the far-off caves. You offered kindness, gentleness, charity. That’s why I heard your words and clung to them that day in my bathtub. In that moment, I was not sealed into a flock of brethren. I was not blessed by sacred hands and ushered into a new name and new robes. But I discovered that you and I had a lot more in common than I ever would have believed. Your words have walked with me through these early years of childrearing. You might not agree with me, but Brother, you have a Mother’s heart. You gathered and gathered and look at us: We are still being gathered into your fold, your cloister.

Thank you for offering a world to me I had never imagined: the hope of quiet faith and severe hospitality. I have found in your words a beautiful perspective of time and work and God’s sweet goodness.

I don’t know how to go about celebrating a saint on his feast day. You probably can’t imagine this, but we Protestants don’t usually do that sort of thing. I imagine, though, that in celebration I should do what you’ve taught me: Practice gentle humility.

The cloistered life is the gentle life, after all. I’ll dress my boys for bed here at my parents’ home. I say a blessing over their heads, like any faithful priest. I’ll visit my grandfather in his nursing home bed, where he lies uncertain and a bit confused. I’ll run my fingers through his hair like I do my little boys and sing the old invitation hymns to him while he falls asleep, his mouth curled tight around the empty space where his false teeth have been removed.

And, like you would do, I’m sure, Benedict, I’ll raise my thumb to his ancient forehead, run it down and across his wrinkled lines. I’ll mark him with the cross, a blessing for an old man in the in-between, a man who told me Jesus would be coming for him soon.

I’ll sing quiet, like a monk chanting ancient Psalms: Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me. And that will be my celebration, Benedict. As quiet and simple a celebration as you would require.

 

Yours,


* The Feast of St. Benedict was actually yesterday, July 11, when this post was written.

For more on St. Benedict, read the series I wrote on Benedict’s Rule here.
May 16, 2012

The purpose for which we have written this rule is to make it clear that by observing it in our monasteries we can at least achieve the first steps in virtue and good monastic practice. Anyone, however, who wished to press on towards the highest standards of monastic life may turn to the teachings of the holy Fathers, which can lead those who follow them to the very heights of perfection. Indeed, what page, what saying from the sacred scriptures of the Old and New Testaments is not given us by the authority of God as reliable guidance for our lives on earth? … We, however, can only blush with shame when we reflect on the negligence and inadequacy of the monastic lives we lead.

Whoever you may be, then, in your eagerness to reach your Father’s home in heaven, be faithful with Christ’s help to this small Rule which is only a beginning. Starting from there you may in the end aim at the greater heights of monastic teaching and virtue in the works which we have mentioned above and with God’s help you will then be able to reach those heights yourself. Amen.

The Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 73 (emphasis mine)

 

I have this memory of sitting at my computer during August’s naptime six weeks into our move to San Francisco. I had just spent the first 45 minutes of his nap building an Ikea desk. I did it backwards the first time and had to take it apart. Then, I drilled and grunted and propped that delicate fake-wood into its proper settings and set that cheap table on its feet. I placed two things upon it: my computer and my Benedictine Handbook.

Then I opened the screen to check in with my writerly friends from grad school. We were a group of women who had spent Thursday nights together throughout those three years in the early 2000’s. We’d get dinner and talk poetry while drinking tea. We had a little closed blog back then where we would post about what we were reading or writing. My friends were publishing books and teaching writing workshops and writing interesting essays on poetry and feminism. And I was wiping my kid’s butt. Not reading. And definitely not writing.

That afternoon, I opened the laptop to see a thread from a friend about her stressful life situation. She was struggling through an incredibly difficult season: unsure of the future of her marriage, trying to find a permanent teaching position, balancing her writing and her adjunct jobs and raising a toddler. She made a statement in her frustration. She said, “If only I could be some Stepford Wife and let somebody else take care of me!”

That’s all she said. She didn’t purposefully make fun of me. She was hurting and I was the selfish one. And you better believe I cried for myself. I sat at that new Ikea desk, my face smashed into the white plastic wood, and cried. I wept and asked God, “Is that all I am? Am I a lazy wife who lets my husband earn the money and take care of me? Am I useless? Am I wasting my gifts here in my home, washing the dishes and playing on the floor with my kid, making grilled cheese sandwiches?”

I had only just then begun my journey with St. Benedict. I was asking God to show me how to find purpose in this life at home. I was asking God how I was supposed to feel like this staying home business had any value compared to the work I had been in full time ministry just months before. I was looking at myself and my days alone with August and my loneliness in this new city, and I was gut-sobbing, “Please God, give me some help here. I don’t know where the joy is.”

And do you know how God used St. Benedict in my life? God began to daily lift up that veil where I was hiding my Crazy. Slowly, I heard words and phrases like: humility, stability, obedience, hospitality, heartfelt repentance, hurrying to the work of God, the spirit of silence, sincere and unassuming affection, prayer that should normally be short, words that are weighty and restrained…

* * *

Over time, I began to sense a change in my guts: It was a paradigm shift. It was as if I was, for the first time, actually believing Jesus when he spoke of a new way of seeing value. What mattered was not my own power in the world, my own ability to provide for myself or impress strangers with my usefulness in life, or, even, to be entertained in my monotonous day. What mattered was that I had a miraculous invitation to join the servants of the Kingdom of God in the work of Jesus, the work that no one in their right minds wants to do. I had the opportunity to wash dishes with a song on my lips, to stare in utter gratitude at the tiny fingers stacking those wooden colored blocks, to clean and pick up and sing and rock and bandage ouchies and pick up again. I was learning to make a stable place for my son in the midst of our unstable life post cross-country move. I was honored to learn the glory of wholeheartedness, to grasp the miracle that my life did not have to be externally impressive to be significant in God’s kingdom.

And do you know what happened? I learned to pray at that desk. Writing words on paper, leaning over my copy of Benedict’s Rule with sticky notes on the wall in front of me that said things like, “Count nothing more important than the love you should cherish for Christ,” (RSB, chapter 4) and “Humility is very slow business, if it’s authentic” (Michael Casey, Guide to Living in the Truth, via Monk Habits for Everyday People by Dennis Olkham).

I have learned a secret, whispered to me via Holy Spirit over the long, long path of 1500 years. It’s a secret truth that God whsipered in the scripture first, a secret I needed a friend like Benedict to speak louder so it broke through all that flesh, so it pebble-sank into my heart:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” (Isaiah 30:15)

Oh, friend, “whoever you may be,” may we be eager to run toward the full hearts God has always intended for us. May we quiet the voices spouting every kind of lie to our already bare-threaded souls. When we hear the words that tear our patched up psyches, may we learn the gift of gratitude and grace, and embrace those moments when we learn to give, when we learn to serve the least among us. May we find in them Christ. May we remember that “with Christ’s help” this “small Rule… is only a beginning.”

* * *

 

This is my last post in the {Practicing Benedict} series. Thanks for walking with me through it. I promise that Benedict will still be making some regular guest appearances around here and I’ll have a button up soon linking to every post in the series.

 

 

 

 

 

March 28, 2012

When new clothing is issued, the old should be immediately returned to be put in store for distribution to the poor. Two tunics and two cowls should be enough for each member of the community to provide for night-wear and for laundering. Anything more than that would be excessive and this must be avoided…

There is one saying, however, from the Acts of the Apostles which the superior must always bear in mind, namely that proper provision was made according to the needs of each. (The Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 55)

I went shopping on Monday. I bought a yellow skirt, gray shorts, an orange sundress, and a new pair of jeans. I felt like these purchases were necessary.   I rarely wore shorts and skirts during our two years in San Francisco. And it’s at least 80 degrees for five to six months of the year in Austin. It felt necessary to update the bare-leg collection around here. Of course, St. Benedict would probably say my purchases were excessive. He would say that a yellow skirt, gray shorts and an orange sundress ought to be avoided (for more reasons that one!). Part of me agrees…

I’ve been in a state of anxiety over my closet for almost fourteen years. 1997 was the year I first encountered poverty. It was shocking to my soul. It snapped me into an awareness of the world, a calling toward compassion, a longing to know how my culture (American, middle class, evangelical) fit into the world I’d been ignoring those seventeen years prior.

I came home sickened by the thought of my Old Navy shorts and piles of t-shirts and–well, I’m not sure what else I wore back then…shorts and t-shirts…oh, yeah! pajama pants! I came home sickened by what I owned, what I threw around, what I valued and my new knowledge of the desperation of so much of the world. I prayed, “Lord, please don’t let me forget.” Then I made a minor vow to my brain that I wouldn’t buy any more clothes.  I broke that vow the next month. So then I made a new vow with my head: I’d only buy cheap clothes.

That’s how my struggle with clothing has been ever since. I dress like most middle class women in their early 30s. I keep up with trends. I like clothes. I like shopping. And, at the same time, I agonize about what I have. I pray about simplicity. I struggle with what it means that I have outfits and a style and Going Out Shoes. Then, I make myself feel better by thinking about how much bigger other people’s closets are. Or I consider that my concern shouldn’t be how many tops I own but the condition of my heart. And, after I hear those whispers in my brain, I see faces. I see the faces of children in the slums of Nairobi. I see the faces of the women I met along the Rio Negro in Brazil. I see the homeless I drive past in Austin.

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to practice the spiritual discipline of simplicity in my closet. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that my 17-year-old plan of “only buying cheap clothes” was not necessarily better for those living in poverty. First of all, cheap clothing is usually poorly made, which means it gets worn out faster. I’m less likely to be able to give that top from Target away in three years, which means it will sit in a landfill instead of being worn by someone who could use it. Secondly, cheaper clothes are more likely to have been made in sweatshops. That means those who made them may have been mistreated, paid unfairly, and they may have even been children. (I know it’s possible that more expensive clothing has been made in a sweatshop as well. It’s just that cheaper clothes are often more likely to have been made with cheap labor)

My husband appreciates fashion. Does that shock you? He is the best dressed man I know. I like to describe him as “smooth.” And he has slowly eased me toward the world of quality rather than cheapness, of a small closet filled with a few good pieces rather than a large closet full of every option available. The same part of me that finds God’s joy in the beauty of a good book or grasps the deep value of visual art, is also drawn to beautiful clothes. Maybe there is room for beauty as long as it is balanced by simplicity?

I’m learning simplicity. For New Year’s I loaded up two-thirds of my closet and I listened to Benedict’s instructions that they should be given away to the poor. I gave away clothes I wasn’t in love with or that were rarely worn, and kept a small number of tops I loved, three pairs of jeans that worked. I’m relearning how to shop. When I shop, I’m doing it with a purpose, with intention. I’m shopping for the long-term. I’m ignoring cute things that I don’t need, even when they’re on sale. And I’m shopping with a prayerful heart.

I’ve been learning to ask God about what my possible purchase means to him. What does it say about the state of my heart that I think I need this skirt? Then, if my heart is right, what do I know about where this skirt comes from? Will this skirt hurt or help the world?

I don’t know what the answer is. I wish that God was clearer, firmer with me about what clothes should mean to me. I wish clothes came labeled: “Made unfairly by child labor” so I wouldn’t have to do so much detective work. But, following Jesus is never simple. Neither is practicing justice and simplicity. Sometimes I think God simply loves for us to engage with these questions, to live and make choices with intentionality and reverence for God’s creation.

So, here is an instance when applying St. Benedict’s rule literally may not work in my daily life. But I’m learning how to apply it to my heart because I’m grasping more and more fully what the Lord requires of me: “To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). I really believe justice, mercy and humility should be my standards when I shop.

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