The Spirituality of Soap

Cindy's soap

Looking forward to the spirituality and soap seminar with Cindy Todd

For months now I have been trying to convince Cindy Todd the founder of Snohomish Soap Company and MSA team member that she needs to hold a workshop on spirituality and soap here at the Mustard Seed House.  And now it is happening.  I am so excited.  I love Cindy’s soap and a great idea for inexpensive gifts, but more than that I love her attitude to business formation too which I kno she will share more about so hope that you can join us.

Its going to be a good day!  Come to Mustard Seed House October 29th 11am – 2pm to learn about the spirituality of soapmaking and share your own “clean” stories about how God can use unexpected things to help us learn more about him.  Hint:  Its all about process and transformation…

In this hands-on workshop, Cindy Todd, MSA team member and owner of the Snohomish Soap Company, will teach hot and cold process soapmaking, use of color and fragrance, plus…you’ll leave with your own bar or two. Everything you’ll need is included in the $40 fee.

Prepare for a home made holiday with a couple of bars to take home!

Tea, coffee, and snacks provided.



Building Community

Over the last couple of weeks I have found myself thinking a lot about what it means to build community, which is the theme of our annual Celtic retreat this year.  It also the theme of our next gathering here at the Mustard Seed House The Art of Being in Community

How do we build community with people who are spread out around the globe without expending vast amounts of money to bring us all together in one place?  Most of us are depending more and more on the internet & cell phones to help build community in this kind of context.  Facebook, webinars, podcasts and text messaging all give us a sense of connectedness in a scattered and sometimes disconnected worldwide community.  But does this really build community or does it just give us a false sense of belonging?  To be honest I am not sure.

I now have almost 1700 “friends” on facebook, obviously many of whom I do not know well, some of whom I don’t know at all.  It seems to me that calling these people friends is a misnomer that I struggle with because in some ways it degrades the real meaning of friendship and the purpose of community.  At another level I love the kind of interaction it has opened up for me with people I may never otherwise have connected to.  Whenever Tom and I travel we meet people who are my facebook friends and that does provide an opportunity to deepen relationship and build community at a deeper level.

However if this is the only type of community we are involved in I think that there is something lacking.  Nothing builds community like face to face meetings – be it for a casual cup of coffee, a celebrative meal or even a shared work task.

Friday we held our monthly garden day at the Mustard Seed House trying to get the planting, weeding and maintenance up to day.  Ironically, because of the number of garden seminars I have facilitated this year our own garden has been somewhat neglected.  Not that this has stopped the growth.  In fact we have the most magnificent broccoli and cauliflowers about to be harvested that i have ever seen.

Garden days I am discovering are a wonderful way to build community.  Not just those from the Mustard Seed House participated but also several others who have attended seminars in the last couple of months.  This is a great way to get to know people in the midst of our work.  We covered almost 600 apples with little stocking feet (what one of our community has nicknamed apple condoms) to keep out the apple maggots and also accomplished a huge amount of weeding.  It was also a great opportunity to learn from each other about the garden techniques we have discovered that work best here in Seattle.  As one person commented – things go better with friends.

Part of what I realize in the midst of this is that building community is something that should happen in all the everyday interactions of our lives.  Sharing life together is meant to be at the centre of our faith.  What we need to do is provide both the opportunities and places for people to gather and build community.  And these do not need to be formal gatherings.  In fact simple community activities like the garden day we just spent together are probably better for building community than a formal workshop or conference.

If as Howard Snyder says: Jesus spent more time forming community than he did healing the sick and preaching the good news than this is something that we need to take very seriously too.  So what are the most effective ways you have found to build community?

The Art of Being in Community

Last Sunday was Trinity Sunday, the day when we focus on God as Trinity.  One comment our priest made really impacted me.  He said that when we think of God we rarely think of the Trinity.  As I thought about that after the service I realized how true that is.  And because we do not think of God as Trinity, we do not think about God as community either.  Nor do we think about God’s revelation in the rich and diverse community of human kind and of all creation around us.  This morning as I read Richard Twiss’s thoughts in the Mosaic Bible I was reminded of this.

Every day our lives are painted in color, in light, in beauty and in mystery.  We walk in a world of day and night, wind and rain, heat and warmth.  We share this planet with myriad species of living things.  We dwell with women and men of many languages, cultures, appearances and nations.

This diversity is an ‘earthen image” of the mystery of God.  It is a reflection of the diverse, interrelated community shared by God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  Before Creation, God already existed in diverse community.  The relationship enjoyed by the Trinitarian sovereign was a glorious experience of divine love, coequality, mutuality, interdependence, unity, affirmation, righteousness, peace and more.

The next gathering at the Mustard Seed House will be about community and we would love to have you join us.

The Art of Being in Community:

An afternoon of food & conversations

We are inviting you to come together with other friends (old and new) interested in Christian community (new monastic, intentional residential/non- residential, proximity communities, hyper-local,  faith communites) for an afternoon of good food, conversation and community.

Bring BBQ food to share (meats, veg, drinks, bread, dessert. fruit – we are still working on the possibility of having some grills in location for us to cook). We will have a casual time to get to know each other. There will also be two structure time of conversations related to the art of living in community – Desolations and Consolations in Community.

Facilitated by Eliacín Rosario-Cruz, Ricci Kilmer and you.

Register online :

When? Saturday, June 26, 2010 – 4:00 – 7:00 PM

Where? Mustard Seed House (this location might change, stay tuned.)

Who can come? Anyone involved and interested in community. Families are encouraged to come.

This is an open invitation, but  spaces are limited  – Registration via is required in order for people to know how much food to bring for sharing.

Suggested donation of $10-20 will go to support the ministry of Mustard Seed Associates. No one will be turn away for lack of money.

Please contact Eliacín – – if you have any questions.

Preparing for Spirituality of Gardening – Garden days at the Mustard Seed House

Friday was garden day at the Mustard Seed House.  It always amazes me how much we are able to accomplish.  Tom & I and the Rosario Kilmers, with the able help of Ryan Marsh and Vicky Hollaway and her daughter Fiona were able to complete the new raised beds that I have begun planting with cabbages, cauliflowers and broccoli interspersed with greens, beets and carrots.  I hope that by the time the Spirituality of gardening seminar comes round on April 24th that there will be a rich array of plants to display.

One of the things I love about gardening like this is that it is a wonderful way to build friendships and strengthen community and of course everyone who helps has to be willing to help eat the harvest too.  It is also a great way to involve kids in community events.  Catie Rosario Kilmer has been my best helper this year and it has given her great opportunities to practice her writing skills as she wrote out markers while I planted tomato seeds

Her brother Gabriel is not as able yet but still loves to help his mother Ricci and me fill the seed containers with soil.

Garden Days at the Mustard Seed House

We will be holding garden days at the Mustard Seed House at the end of this week to prepare new raised beds in our side garden and hopefully to fill them with cauliflowers, cabbages and broccoli as well as a variety of lettuce, spinach and oriental greens and then interspersed will be carrots and beets.

We are using the square foot garden method and I am amazed at how much we will be able to grow in a crazy quilt of plants.  I have been having fun with the Gardener’s Supply kitchen garden planner and experimenting with the best arrangement for our new beds.  This is a great tool for both beginners and experience gardeners as it tends to take the guess work out of our labours.

My front porch is already bulging with tomatoes that should be ready to go in the ground mid May and this week I hope to get squash and beans started as well.

So if you are available either Friday or Saturday morning and would like to help with the garden or if you know of someone else who may be interested please let me know.  I have found that this is a great way to get to develop friendships as well as to share garden knowledge.   Of course it does mean that you will need to help us eat the produce over the summer.