Purchase a single copy of the Fall 2022 issue of Quaker Life: A mosaic of Friendly living on the theme of Stewardship.
In keeping with her intention to craft a rendering of Genesis that both makes sense in English and is faithful to the original Hebrew, translator Mary Phil Korsak chooses to translate the Hebrew word אדמ—the word commonly translated as “man” or “human”— as “groundling,” to emphasize how the Hebrew text recognizes the אדמ as the one who comes from, is made from, the ground, אדמה. So Korsak renders Genesis 2 in this way:
4 ...On the day YHWH Elohim made earth and sky
5 no shrub of the field was yet in the earth
no plant of the field had yet sprouted
For YHWH Elohim had not made it rain on the earth
And there was no groundling to serve the ground
6 But a surge went up from the earth
and gave drink to the face of the ground
7 YHWH Elohim formed the groundling, soil of the ground
He blew into its nostrils the blast of life
and the groundling became a living soul
8 YHWH Elohim planted a garden in Eden in the East
There he set the groundling he had formed…
15 YHWH Elohim took the groundling
and set it to rest in the garden of Eden
to serve it and keep it*
One way or another, it is the priority that Friends have given to serving and keeping the ground that has led twenty-first century Friends to consider “stewardship” one of our foundational Quaker testimonies. Yet the opportunities to serve creation exist within an infinite array of human experiences, as our essays in this issue of Quaker Life attest.
Gabi Savory Bailey writes about the apparently endless supply of goods, services, experiences, and activities that are available to the North American citizen-consumer. Thinking of ourselves as stewards, who need to oversee the best use of our resources—both material and spiritual—can help us choose from among all the competing options for our time and attention those options that will contribute the most benefit to our own lives and be best aligned with God’s work in creation.
Getry Agiza writes about the role Kenyan Friends took in 2022’s national elections in preventing election violence. By taking on a role as peacemakers in areas and times of conflict, Kenyan Friends are also serving as stewards of Kenya’s common spaces and civic agreements.
In her essay, “Unity with Creation,” Eden Grace traces the long-standing emphasis that Friends have given to right relationship with creation. She quibbles with the word “stewardship” to describe that relationship, while delineating the ways in which Friends have always understood themselves as working alongside God to protect and nurture creation, as well as to learn from creation about the characteristics of God.
Lisa Graham McMinn writes about the personal, one-to-one relationship between herself and one of her goats. Because God is the medium in which that relationship exists, she wonders whether she and the doe may share communion in grief, even though their experiences of life are so unimaginably different.
Writing about the prophet Jeremiah’s unhesitating redemption of his cousin Hanamel’s field in Anathoth, Julie Rudd proposes that faithful stewardship is to do the right thing, the hopeful thing, rather than the economically prudent thing—to take the action that best fits a narrative of hope and redemption, rather than a narrative of despair.
In his Bible study, Kelly Kellum looks at the relationship between giving and gratitude. What is a generous harvest? What return do we expect from our planting? He proposes that true stewardship of resources may consist of gathering, giving, and investing, rather than gathering to save up, preserve, and store.
Finally, in her review of the book Finding Yourself in Chaos, Cathy Barney calls out some of the ways that those in ministry can best steward their gifts—through authenticity, vulnerability, and honest self-reflection.
— Daniel J. Kasztelan, Quaker Life editor
* Mary Phil Korsak, At the Start...Genesis Made New, (New York: Doubleday, 1993).
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