January Update

by Christine Sine —

Frozen leafLast week we had snow and ice storms in Seattle. The city was immobilized and anyone who could stayed home. The trees were festooned with snow and icicles formed along their branches. How do they survive I wondered? Some of my time last week was spent researching this very question and the answers are astounding with powerful implications for my faith and for us at Mustard Seed Associates.

Winter: Waiting and Strengthening

Icy CedarA tree prepares for winter well ahead of the icy blasts. As days shorten, sap withdraws and growth stops. This produces the vibrant colours of autumn. Deciduous trees set buds that contain next year’s leaves and flowers. As the weather cools, sugar increases dramatically in each cell and its plasma membrane gains flexibility. It’s like a sugary antifreeze that keeps the cell’s precious contents safe until spring. The sap of the sugar maple, which is tapped for maple syrup, is a good example of this. Then trees go dormant, at least above ground. Roots continue to grow, strengthening the tree as they search out unfrozen water.

If those autumn formed buds start growing prematurely they will be destroyed by winter’s next icy blast. Leaves die and fruit doesn’t form. There is no chlorophyll for photosynthesis and the whole tree might starve and die.

This description has resonated in my soul this week as I feel MSA is in a waiting, strengthening season. It is as though God has set buds for next year’s growth and we desperately want to see them spring into life, but God is saying, not yet, wait for the lengthening of days and the warming of the air. In the mean time put down deeper roots and strengthen your framework. Allow your roots to grow down to the deep water you will need for the coming summer and enjoy the peace of a world at rest.

Roots Going Down Deep

Mustard Seed Associates is going through huge transitions at the moment. Our Seattle team is growing and soon we will begin to develop the Mustard Seed Village community. Our Board is also changing as we grapple with the new skills needed to grow us into the future. These transitions have encouraged us to revisit our MSA foundations, refresh our vision of God’s kingdom purposes.

We are at core a spiritual community

This has reaffirm our belief that we are at core a spiritual community that discerns and implements God’s will for our organization. We believe that everything we do should flow out of our involvement together as community. The kind of creativity and innovation we want to encourage, that enables us to create new ways to advance God’s kingdom purposes and engage tomorrow’s challenges, occurs best in and through community. Much of what I have learned is expressed in my recent blog series: Leading Spiritually.

Tom is also blogging about community on the MSA website. As he stated in last week’s post I am deeply concerned that too many of us miss new possibilities for community because we don’t pay attention to “times like these.” Read the post here

Mustard Seed House Garden CommunityOur garden community is putting down roots too and we invite you to be a part of it. Each Friday and the 3rd Saturday of each month will be community garden days. If you live in Seattle and would like to join us at the Mustard Seed House please let me know. Or contact us if you want us to start your lettuce, tomatoes, squash, basil or other vegetables. Proceeds from sales will go towards starting the Mustard Seed Village community garden.

There are other ways in which we hope to put down deeper community roots in the coming weeks too. We need to grow our circle of friends and supporters. If you know people anywhere in the world who are interested in sustainability, community or creativity that would resonate with the MSA message we would like to meet them.

We are a networking hub

MSA also provides a networking hub for many expressions of faith and community, a place to share and cross pollinate ideas. We are working to strengthen this networking capacity. We will hold several small networking gatherings at the Mustard Seed House this year. Cindy Todd and Andrew Wade will man a Mustard Seed booth at the Justice Conference in Portland February 24 & 25 Tom and I will collaborate with the Parish Collective and the Seattle School for the Inhabit Conference. April 20 & 21 and all of us hope to attend the Wild Goose Festival in South Carolina June 21 – 24.

Buds in Waiting

So what are the buds in waiting that will not emerge until the spring?

First our initial cohort for the Pacific Sustainability semester has been delayed until January 2013. We still expect to bring our program director and community facilitator on staff in July of this year. However this program will require the building of community networks and connections that need months of preparation. We are also still waiting for the final approval from colleges and universities that are potential recruiting grounds for students.

Second we have decided to delay the launch of our ezine Imagine That. We want to provide a tool that will help launch creativity and innovation in the MSA network as well as share examples of how God has already unleashed creativity in our midst. However we realize that with our current commitments, this would stretch our existing resources too thinly.

Building Resilience – Adding to the Team

We continue to grow the MSA team. We are currently looking for a volunteer with administrative skills to work as my assistant helping with research, writing and web communications.This position will provide an opportunity for the volunteer to assist in publishing articles, blog posts and possibly a book on spiritual practices. There will also be opportunity to assist in events and meet collaborators from around the world. If you are interested I would love to hear from you.

We also have a summer internship position available. Duties would include organizing, marketing and coordinating our annual Celtic retreat at the Mustard Seed Village site.

In our discernment time during our MSA team meeting this last week we sensed that God is at work below the surface, getting ready to grow the seeds and preparing to bring new life to those waiting buds. We appreciate your prayers as we solidify our foundations and press forward to discern and implement God’s will for us as an organization.

God bless you,
Christine Sine
Executive Director