Nourishment for Justice

Over the past (almost) four years I have been a student at the School of Theology & Ministry (STM), I have learned a great deal about myself theologically, spiritually, and physically. As I discovered a more authentic version of my best self, many areas of my life have been finessed. This month’s theme is nourish. For me, it means, what feeds us?

But more importantly, what do I need to be fed for? What do I need nourishment for? The crux of my faith and the foundation of my being is to seek justice. The very same justice that Jesus strived to make a reality here, on earth, during his short time with us. My sense of vocation and calling is to live out the gospel message of radical love and justice. It is daunting most days. The world is in disarray, people are suffering, and sometimes I just want to crawl under my warm comforter and watch Netflix documentaries rather than deal with the real world outside of my home.

To seek justice, I need to be prepared; I need to be centered and nourished. I need to be spiritually grounded (known as, or referred to as, personal piety in my Wesleyan heritage). For me, daily spiritual and prayer practices are essential. I encounter God in many ways, through daily walks with the Divine where I reflect on life and dream of possibility. I meditate on the random quotes given to me while I drink my favorite brand of tea; sometimes they ring too true to bring comfort. Monday nights, I practice yoga where I allow myself to breath and be open to the world. I am spiritually fed by my time spent with close friends who I break bread with and by attending worship at my faith community. This beautiful hodgepodge of lived-out spirituality nourishes my soul and my soul aches when I neglect this part of my call to justice.

To seek justice, I need to be physically ready for justice. We are embodied beings. One cannot ignore this fact, and we need to be able to function properly. I live this out by combining a few of my spiritual practices with the physical: walking and yoga. The other way is how I nourish my body. If I don’t eat, or eat healthily, I can’t seek justice in the ways I can when I am feeling great and ready to take on the world. I have food allergies so I need to be careful or I am knocked out for a few days. Food has become something difficult at times, but also turned into a way I can find something divine. Recently, I realized that a typical Sabbath for me involves preparing and cooking food. Food and activity nourish us; to be healthy (whatever that looks like for you) is vital to be prepared for justice. Justice isn’t easy; it isn’t fast, so we need to be sustained.

Finally, to seek justice, I need to be theologically rooted. To seek justice is to know why you are seeking. It’s not for my own personal gain or for the prestige; it’s because of how I understand my own personal theology—a theology built on the gospel message of love and justice while working to create the Kin-dom of God here and now. Why do I feel called to seek justice? Isaiah 58:6 states: “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” We are called to see justice, which grounds my theology. Although theology nourishes my questions, creating new ones, and rarely gives me a definitive answer, it helps me articulate why I seek justice.

This is why I seek nourishment for justice. What nourishes you? And what do you need nourishment for?

Irene DeMaris

STM Cycle of Prayer

We pray today for the United Methodist Church, their communities and students in our midst, and for Meredith Dodd, their Formation Chaplain, and Carol Mariano, Liturgical Chaplain; Jessica Palmer, Graduate Assistant; Terri Stewart and Jane Strong, students.

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