enjoy the little things in life. for one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things

Wishing You an Epiphany

The season of Epiphany is known as the renewal of light and revelation. It is celebrated in some churches to acknowledge the visit of The Magi to Baby Jesus.  It is also celebrated to help humans remember that we each have a limited time on Earth and to remind us to live, consciously, finding the Sacred, the Holy, in each day, in the “ordinary”, the “mundane” of our life. Thereby living the present day as if it is the only one we have.  And for some of us, it is.

If you remember “Our Town,” a play from Thornton Wilder, there is a scene in a graveyard….the young heroine, who has just died, is being comforted by beings from the Spirit realm.  In her grief the young woman asks to revisit one “unimportant” day in the life she has just left.  Her wish is granted. As she moves through that day she realizes all that she took for granted, all that she missed the “importance” of from that day. She confides to her spiritual comforters (and to us):  “I didn’t realize all that was going on and we never noticed…Good-bye world.  Good-bye Grover’s Corners….Mama and Papa.  Good-bye to clocks ticking…and Mama’s sunflowers.  And food and coffee.  And new-ironed dresses and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up.  Oh, Earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.”

During this season of Epiphany, a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way (Merriam Webster), may each of us find the Sacred and the Holy in our own “unimportant” days.  Understanding that in doing so, at the end of our lives, we can leave in peace, knowing that we lived fully with awareness and in gratitude.

by Belledessa

Wichita Area Sustainability Initiative (WASI)

My name is Andrea Knighton and I am pleased to have the opportunity to tell you a little bit about Wichita Area Sustainability Initiative, “WASI” for short. I founded WASI as a nonprofit shortly after graduating from Wichita State University with a Masters degree in Social Work (MSW) in May of 2012. My area of study in graduate school was psychological trauma. Upon graduation my decision was to work in the area of trauma prevention. With trauma prevention in mind and after much post-graduation reading and research, the WASI vision emerged.

WASI’s mission is to help reduce basic resource insecurity by helping to localize the food and energy systems with sustainable and “people-powered” solutions. The WASI vision is based on the premise that people CAN work together to make survival level resources available to create an environment of resiliency for themselves, their families, their neighborhoods and their community.

Our planet encompasses and supports all life. Everything needed for abundance is here yet scarcity prevails. Understanding the root causes of scarcity in turn can help us design solid solutions. Solutions that work with and within our earth’s miraculous design will unlock self-sustaining abundance. WASI is here to help pull us together, to roll up our sleeves, to get to work to build these solutions together.

WASI’s First Program ‒ Feeding the 5000

Although WASI’s mission is broad, our programs are designed to be targeted and to provide sustainable solutions while at the same time building community‒all to combat scarcity. To this end our first program is called Feeding the 5000. Feeding the 5000 consists of building off-grid aquaponic greenhouses for churches and area nonprofits to run with neighborhood participation. Raising food together in our neighborhoods can help us address the fact that nearly one in four children in Sedgwick County are food insecure and that Wichita unfortunately offers 44 square miles of food deserts. Feeding the 5000 can help combat this scarcity by making fresh fish and 100% naturally grown produce available to food insecure households, 365 days-a-year.

Churches and neighborhood focused nonprofits are well positioned to encourage community building through neighborhood-wide participation in the food-raising process. Expanding upon the Feeding the 5000 program to offer a community garden, onsite food preparation, do-it-yourself cooking classes, adding other suitable urban livestock options, etc. creates a place to gather to learn and interact around life-giving healthy activities.

Why Aquaponics for WASI’s Feeding the 5000 Program?

Aquaponics is a food production system that integrates aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants in water) where fish and plants are raised symbiotically in a biologically balanced, closed eco-system. Fish waste with the help of nitrifying bacteria feed the plants, the plants filter the water that goes back to the fish which means the same body of water is used to continually raise food.

The sustainable attributes of aquaponics makes it an ideal urban agriculture solution. Plants grown aquaponically can be grown closer together because nutrients are delivered directly to each plant’s root system. In addition, aquaponics requires approximately 90% less water than soil-based agriculture. Add this to an “off-grid” greenhouse structure, you are producing highly nutritious natural food that collapses energy, transportation, processing and storage costs, while at the same time building neighborhood connections and bonds.

In Closing

WASI is in the beginning stages of making its Feeding the 5000 pilot operation a reality. Please visit our website (www.wichitasi.org) and Facebook page to track progress. As soon as the pilot operation is up and running smoothly it will be time to bring Feeding the 5000 off-grid aquaponic greenhouses to Wichita neighborhoods. With your help, a community-based food system for Wichita will happen!

In closing, thank you for taking the time to learn more about WASI’s mission. As the MacArthur Foundation Genius Award winner Will Allen says, everyone is needed at the Good Food Revolution table! With much gratitude, Andrea Knighton, LMSW.

Andrea L. Knighton, LMSW
WASI – Founder
Wichita Area Sustainability Initiative (WASI)
A Not-For-Profit Kansas Corporation

women joyfully releasing into the moon

Celtic New Year

   On this Celtic New Year, I am greeting you with Love and Gratitude for your Being and for your Earthly Presence – Namaste!

   I thought of each of you warmly this morning as I reflected on today’s reading from the daybook I have been using, Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach, “Make Room for Mystery, Awaken to the Magic.”  I have always secretly believed in magic finding affirmation of its existence in the writings of C.S. Lewis, Watership Down, the Hobbit stories, as well as the Harry Potter stories.  Coincidentally, magic has been a theme of my inner work for several weeks and I was surprised to find it in today’s reading.  While always believing in ‘magic,’ it is just in the last few years that I dared to allow that belief to come more into my aware consciousness.  And, to my delight, I am finding that I am not the only human who believes in magic and further delighted to discover the Divinity of Magic as well as its association with the Natural Realm.  So today’s reading has offered me yet another piece of ‘magic.’

   It is with a full heart that I am moved to share it with you with the hope that you find within you the affirmation and the acceptance with which it is sent.  Many blessings…

“To work magic is to weave the unseen forces into form, to soar beyond sight, to explore the uncharted dream realm of the hidden reality.”  Starhawk

   “…Halloween comes down to us from the pre-Christian Celtic festival of Samhain, held October 31, the last autumn night before the cold and bleakness of winter.  On this night—considered the Celtic New Year—the Druids believed that the supernatural world drew closer to the physical world, so human beings were more susceptible to the power and influence of the unseen.  Magic spells could be cast more easily, divination (predicting fortunes) was more revealing, and dreams held special significance.

   “Being Celtic, I still believe this.  Being human, I believe Halloween is the perfect reminder that magic flows through us, mystery infuses every encounter of every day.  We conjure up the shoe that cannot be found anywhere in the house, transform leftovers into a feast, coax bounty from the barren earth, banish fear, heal hurts, make money stretch till the end of the month.  We carry, cradle, nurture, and sustain life.  We do all this and much more.  But most women are not consciously awakened to the realization that we are descendants of an ancient, sacred lineage:  the She.

   “Isn’t magic what you’re performing when you are creating an authentic lifestyle for yourself and those you love?  Aren’t you shaping unseen forces with your creativity and soulcrafts, bringing into the physical world through passion what has only existed in the spiritual realm?  If you can do this unconsciously, how much more could you accomplish if you were fully aware of your powers!

   “O daughter of the She, much power has been gifted you.  It is the power of Love.  Tonight by candlelight or by the light of the full moon in your backyard, commit to use your power wisely for the Highest Good or All.  You have no idea of the countless lives you touch in the course of your lifetime.  Souls searching for Wholeness that could be healed with the magic at your command.  Go directly to the Source.  Acknowledge your lineage and your authentic gifts with a grateful heart…and on this night of magic, by candlelight or moonlight,”… commit to bringing your own unique, beautiful magic into form in this present incarnation.

   Happy weaving, ecstatic soaring, and awe-inspiring exploring of those uncharted realms….

With love,


clip art blue bird on a branch

My Heart Thrills

I have never shared with any one what I am sharing here so please bear with me if I seem to go on a little too much, if I do it is simply to allow words to get as close to my level of inner joy of these experiences as possible.

For as long as I can remember my heart thrills as I listen to the songs of birds, the whirr of cicadas, crickets, grasshoppers, the stirrings of wind, the timpani of thunder, the crack of lightning, the rustle of fallen leaves as I purposely shuffle through them to amplify the sound, the gurgles of streams on their way to rivers, the croak of the bullfrog and the song of tree frogs, the snorting and rooting around of animals as they find their food and make a comfortable resting place, and even when laying on the ground hearing the diminutive sounds made by unseen entities, and oh, the crackles and pops that come from a fire, the unique sound of the wind as it passes through evergreens then cottonwoods or maples or oaks, the fluttering of a moths wings, buzzzzzing of bees as they gather pollen from first one blossom then another….I could go on. And the silence when no sounds from humans can be heard and any sounds of nature are indiscernible…I can rest in that silence.  These sounds along with the scents of soil, tree bark, grass, flowers, rain, tomato plants and honeysuckle (to name a few); the brushing of the wind on my face, the sun as it warms my body, the texture of stones and leaves; the variety of colors, shapes, designs, and variations of each of them combining
into myriad patterns to please the eye.

I have never understood why so few people I have met experience a similar inner response as mine to all of these communiqués.  Instead I hear: “I wish the wind would quit blowing,” “The stupid birds singing woke me up,” “I hate the sound of the locusts,” “It’s too quiet.”

The sounds, scents, textures, visual variety of the natural world are here to interact with us, to calm us, to inspire us, to comfort us, to help us let go of whatever it is that is an irritant to our soul, to motivate us to live a little more fully and authentically.

As David Abram lifts up in his book The Spell of the Sensuous, the “magic” available to each human is in altering one’s common state of consciousness “precisely in order to make contact with the other organic forms of sensitivity and awareness with which human existence is entwined.”  I personally have always believed in the existence of magic and it is Mr. Abram’s definition of magic that most resonates with me: “Magic…is the experience of existing in a world made up of multiple intelligences, the intuition that every form one perceives–from the swallow swooping overhead to the fly on a blade of grass, and indeed the blade of grass itself–is an experiencing form, an entity with its own predilections and sensations, albeit sensations that are very different from our own.”

I am inviting you to experience magic in your day, every day. May your life be full and your heart thrilled.

~ Belledessa

Thinking Outside the Bottle

water bottles in front of river image

“Thinking Outside the Bottle”,* the title of an article from a flyer that was handed out by the Sierra Club at the recent EcoFest at the Unitarian Universalist church in Wichita.  As one who has been drinking, and enjoying, filtered water for a number of years, the title caught my eye.

Also, as one who is an ardent recycler, ever looking for places to recycle even more items, I have been concerned about the number of plastic bottles, large and small, that are used for bottled water that I see as litter and in trash cans.

For all of us who are concerned about conserving water and stopping pollution, what if we “say good-bye to plastic, disposable bottles?”

Consider the following:

  • for every 3 liters of  fresh water that goes into making bottled water, just one liter ends up in the bottle–the other 2 go to waste;
  • in 1 year more than 900,000 TONS of plastic was used to package 8 BILLION gallons of bottled water–most of that plastic ended up as litter or in dumps;
  • if we turned all of the energy that goes into making a bottle of water back into oil, the bottle would be one quarter full of oil.

How can we think outside the bottle?  Here are a few alternate methods of having good tasting water handy:

  • obtain reusable containers and fill them with a supply of filtered water that you keep at home;
  • for public events, set out pitchers of filtered water and reusable cups;
  • install a quality water filter on the tap in your home.

Every adjustment each of us makes to live sustainably and tread more lightly on the Earth (regardless of how small or seemingly insignificant each adjustment is)  is magnified because we are modeling that behavior to others.  How will you “think outside the bottle?”

* Source: Tomorrow’s Planet, by Ann Pinkerton and Eileen Weckerie

Elegy for a Walnut Tree

black walnuts on a tree image


Old friend now there is no one alive

Who remembers when you were young

It was high summer when I first saw you

In the blaze of day most of my life ago

With the dry grass whispering in your shade

And already you had lived through wars

And echoes of wars around your silence

Through days of parting and seasons of absence

With the house emptying as the years went their way

Until it was home to bats and swallows

And still when spring climbed toward summer

You opened once more the curled sleeping fingers

Of newborn leaves as though nothing had happened

You and the seasons spoke the same language

And all these years I have looked through your limbs

To the river below and the roofs and the night

And you were the way I saw the world

W. S. Merwin

Belledessa was deeply inspired by this poem and is her contribution to our ‘Advice From A Tree’ series!

A Message From A Tree

a message from a tree intro and image - rita robl

I intend harmony, balance, peace and love in all my activities today.
I intend good health in mind and body.
I intend goodness and beauty to surround me.
I intend seeing the Divinity within myself, within every person and all nature this day.
I intend that all be well with myself and with Mother Earth.
I am thankful for the beautiful sunrise, the fresh air I breathe and the nature that surrounds me.
I am grateful for my ASC Community and all the individuals within it.
I am grateful for my friends and the life they share with me.
I intend making a difference in my life, in the work I do and with the people I meet.
I intend GPEI touches the lives of many individuals and makes a difference in their lives.
I intend much LOVE and am grateful to have another day to share with others. Amen,

by Rita Robl

Let It Be ~ Advice From A Tree

image of tree and garden for Let It Be by sharon schwarzHave you ever noticed how much trees contribute to our sense of community? As I sit here writing this I see a community of geese in my backyard gathered under a spectacular hackberry tree that serves as the center of our yard and the central gathering spot for the wildlife that graces our yard. No fewer than ten squirrels are scurrying about in search of stored treasures under the magnificent tree, while two others sit on a branch conversing with one another.

Trees line our rivers and fill our parks and serve as significant landmarks in our residential neighborhoods. Trees on the prairie mean people have settled there and community is thriving. We appreciate the presence of trees as a sign of abundance and opportunity for growth. While we appreciate their beauty and envy their magnificence how often do we take the time to actually interact with them? What if they crave our touch as much as we crave their shade in the summer? What if our kind words are as important to them as they are to our friends?

I have had the opportunity this summer at a workshop sponsored by GPEI and presented by Molly Traffas to take the time to actually talk to a tree and expect to get an answer. When the opportunity presented to actually speak and expect interaction I felt silly and childlike. I was certain that nothing much would happen but I attempted to remain open as this openness and expectation were emphasized throughout the day. I found that if I quiet myself and listen, really listen while expecting to receive an answer that nature does in fact speak to us in very real ways. At the time of the workshop that I am referencing, I was struggling with a personal decision. In discussing my issue with a large tree on the property, I looked up and saw that the limbs and leaves wrote out “Let it be”. My initial thought was that I was crazy and that the tree could not have actually given me an answer I could understand. As I sat there, I became more convinced that in fact this tree was speaking to me by its nature and in the words spelled out by its small branches and leaves. Whether it was my consciousness reflecting the answer to me, or the consciousness of the tree reflecting the answer, the answer was extremely meaningful to me in that time and place. Advice from a tree really is possible. Like so many things in life, openness and expectation precede a precious gift.

Sharon Schwarz, GPEI Board Member

Advice From The Trees

advice from the trees poem and image written by rita schwarz

Advice From A Tree

Each month we are going to be focusing on a topic of interest and inspiration. February’s topic is trees – with the emphasis on the wonderful advice we receive from trees when we can be quiet and centered enough to listen. Today’s entry is the original Advice from a Tree.

advice from a tree poem and image