/sanctuary sep 23 '17
At this, the Autumn Equinox, day & night are of equal length. After a season of triumphant (but slowly diminishing) sunlight, our hours of light and of dark are matched, as the balance tips in favor of the night -- all across the Northern Hemisphere. This celestial dance reminds north-temperate dwellers like us that we must remember the sweet precariousness of Life, and also of the need to work & prepare in order to survive the times ahead. The Autumn Equinox whispers, Are you ready for the dark? Are you ready for the cold? How about for the hunger?
We wish to share a journey with you here -- one that moves between varied & interdependent states of being. We further, wish to tie this journey back to lived & living rhythms -- and to the foods we prepare, share & eat, as a culture and as individuals. The journey moves -- often chaotically, or cyclically -- between experiences of survival, resistance, and victory. Through them all, as living things, we eat -- or we don’t -- we are nourished -- or we survive.
Survival in this modern world may look differently to each of us. It can mean a daily choice of Life over suicide; finding safe housing, food, & water after the devastation of a hurricane; or accessing lifesaving health care services. Some folks, with the privilege of land, circumstance & knowhow, grow & preserve the food they & their loved ones need to survive. For those whose privilege seems to provide relative security, perhaps the work of survival means safeguarding the existences of our species & countless others in states more vulnerable -- against war, climate change, and human hubris.
No matter what survival means to you, we ask ourselves, ‘How can I, and We, survive against all odds?’ What practices & natural forces have sustained your life, and/or Life as a whole, thus far? What practices (of self & community care, of ceremony, ritual & gratitude) have we lost? Which of these losses may threaten our survival? Do we still cling to practices that once helped us survive, but now hold us back? How may we innovate & adapt to what is most needed now?
One path to survival is resistance. Resisting the forces that threaten our survival both helps us co-create a more Life-affirming world, and keeps our spirits strong. When we resist capitalist exploitation of this sacred Earth, we stand for the rights of all living beings. When we say NO to white supremacy, we say YES to justice & liberation for people of all colors & cultures. When we dismantle settler colonialism, we affirm the sovereignty of Indigenous peoples on their ancestral lands. When we fight the patriarchy, we win a world that celebrates people of all genders, sexes, & expressions. Resistance is a practice of freedom.
It can be truly terrifying at times to practice resistance. Fighting back can mean putting your own safety on the line. Whether or not we choose to practice, we must reckon with our own complicity in systems that destroy Life. The systems of dominant society are sinister in their ubiquity & collusion. Each of us has almost certainly in some way participated in the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy of the United States. If you are white, whatever wealth your family has accumulated is likely directly or indirectly the result of the theft of Indigenous land and the enslavement of people of color. Even if you are not white, or your family did not happen to ‘own’ enslaved people, you still may feed the dominant system in your efforts to ‘get ahead’ or to survive (for example, by buying a house on stolen Indigenous land, by working for a business that profits from gentrification or environmental degradation, etc.). What does it mean to resist that which is somehow within us, or all-pervasive around us?
Please understand that these are observations, and not judgments. The point here is not to accuse anyone of being ‘bad’, or to shame anyone for doing what felt necessary for survival. This is not about political correctness. The key message is that in order to resist, and to resist in solidarity with fellow peoples & beings, we must each inevitably face our own history & choices. In practice, this may feature looking clearly at our lives and being willing to change them to align ever more deeply with one’s Life-affirming values. Or, to start, one may have to adopt & grow into values that actually affirm Life. Most of us will likely have to make compromises, accept that none of us can ever be perfect, and learn to receive feedback with grace. With luck, though, and no shortage of fierce determination, we each may reach a place of doing our best through it.
Through many acts of survival & resistance, victory is possible. Victories offer the uplift we need to survive again, and the energy needed to continue the resistance. They invite us to celebrate our efforts, our communities, our Earth, and divine forces (however we call them). Victories re-awaken our sense of abundance & generosity, as we feel moved to add just that little bit extra - the special foods on the table, the fever-pitch of dancing, the audacity of our laughter & joy. When we remember how much we truly have, we can’t help but want the joy of sharing. A feast isn’t a feast without a table full of loved ones, and a party isn’t a party without people to laugh, play & enjoy togetherness.
As awesome as a good victory can feel, the party has to end eventually. Our guests go home, we pick up the mess, and return to our responsibilities. We must recognize that victory is not a singular event or a permanent state, but countless moments of success that fuel us until the next victory comes. We can always practice living in the victories of each moment of Life, and we know that what makes a victory feel special is the unique moment of release & jubilation that emerges out of our daily groundedness & focus. It is also key to recognize that any claim of some final & perfect Victory is empty as long as there is systemic injustice in the world -- or as long as we live on an evolving planet that may again see life without us. While such false claims of Victory encourage complacency, true victories wake the senses and remind us of the vibrancy of Life, sparking in us the desire to be of deep service to one another & Life as a whole.
We (Acorn & Frances Rose) have felt moved to share these reflections because of our involvement in the Philadelphia Assembled Kitchen (#phlakitchen). This project brings together twelve local badasses from some of Philadelphia’s most resilient communities to offer their culinary interpretations of survival, resistance, & victory, for three months of delicious lunches at the cafe of the Perelman Building (of the Philadelphia Museum of Art). PHLA Kitchen is part of Philadelphia Assembled, an exhibition in the Art Museum's Perelman Building that explores Philadelphia’s changing landscape and tells a story of radical community building and active resistance. The exhibit is on until December 10, and entrance is Pay What You Wish. Come see the magic in action, and bring your friends! For a full list of events and more information, visit phlassembled.net.
Recipe: Chocolate Acorn Apple Crisp
This is a favorite autumn recipe in our kitchen (we just made our first of the season last week!). The apples represent survival - gleaning apples from the ground (which would otherwise be discarded by commercial orchards) helps us to survive the winter. The acorns represent resistance - we resist industrial food systems, and create place-based lives by harvesting local abundance. The chocolate sauce represents victory - what richness & luxury!
2 cups sunflower seeds
maple syrup (~1/2 cup)
nutmeg, cinnamon and/or your favorite warming spices
1 1/2 cups acorn flour
Coconut oil (~1/2 cup)
1/4 cup cacao powder
Place about 2 cups of sunflower seeds in a bowl and add water to just barely meet the level of the seeds. Add a generous glug or two of maple syrup, along with nutmeg & cinnamon (and other favorite warming spices).
Fill a 9x13” casserole dish with about 10 sliced or chopped apples (the dish should be about ⅔ full). The more different varieties of apple you use, the more nuanced the flavor will be. Toss with more nutmeg & cinnamon.
In a separate bowl, mix about 1 ½ cups acorn flour/meal with enough melted coconut oil & maple syrup to form a paste of sorts (the acorn flour should be moist, and clumped together).
Spread the soaked sunflower seeds (liquid included) over top of the apples, and then spread the acorn mixture over that. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes, until apples are soft. This dish freezes beautifully if you want to save it for later (simply bake until warm to serve).
Make a sumptuous chocolate sauce by combining ¼ cup each of melted coconut oil, cacao powder, & maple syrup. Drizzle the apple crisp with chocolate sauce right before serving.