Hey there! My name is Sarah Kretschmann and I am just beginning my second year as a student at Luther Seminary where I am pursuing my Masters of Divinity and ordination through the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin. At the core of my call to ministry is a deep connection to the earth and wonder at the magnificence of the world we live in. I am excited to imagine what reconciliation of right relationship with the earth could look like for current and future faith leaders in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America through this opportunity to intern with EcoFaith Recovery.
My internship project began as a commitment to cultivating a Community Garden at Luther Seminary to encourage students to link their more abstract theological studies and their connection to the earth. So far, we have had some community work days, a blessing of the land chapel service, and the Luther Seminary Community Garden is thriving! Kale, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, onions and more are flourishing for the community to harvest. Members of the community are signing up to be garden caretaker for the week and are encouraged to harvest whatever they need. Any extra harvest is being donated to the Luther Food Shelf for students and community members. The abundance of the earth is beautiful!
For the summer, I spent my time doing chaplaincy work at United Hospital in St. Paul. I saw through this experience just how important our connection to land and place can be in understanding the seasons of life. My time at the hospital began with a storm of uncertainty, stress and high acuity cases. At the time, I felt wearied, blown about by the strong winds of the challenges I was facing. As time continued, I wondered if this might be a time of hardening off. Maybe this was the push I needed to dig my roots in deeper and find grounding in my theology, in my core self. As the weeks went on in the hospital, I found myself gravitating toward the notion of God as gardener. A gardener gives all they can to help their seeds take root and thrive but sometimes the pests of bad decisions, the frost of isolation or the storms of doubt get the best of us human seedlings.
(Read Sarah’s “Rootedness.” poetry book HERE, which reflects upon her summer of CPE training.)
It is amidst the storms of life that the raw and jagged pain of loving in a broken world hits us in waves. Waves that come and go. Waves that are too strong to weather alone. It is in the depths of these watery currents that God meets us, reminding us that maybe love in the midst of unbelievable grief and suffering is itself a miracle.
Through these experiences, I have seen that God is big enough. Big enough for our questions. Big enough for our anger. Big enough for our doubts. Questioning God, doubting God, yelling at God, these are some of our most faithful times. When in our grief, in our pain, in our loneliness, we remember that our God has been there too, dying for us. Restoration, not a cure, is the ultimate because salvation comes through healing not expunging. Faith provides a balm for aching hearts, but it can’t take away the pain of being in the world. Only God can do that in God’s time.
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