Love Notes: Reciprocity

Over the last six months, I have mentioned several times a book called Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. It’s one of my favorites. In November, I gave a sermon called “Kiss the Rice” and re-told a story Kimmerer shared in the book. She was giving a lecture at a university and a beautiful young girl, dark haired tied up in headscarf, was hanging back from the discussion waiting her turn. After nearly everyone had left, she approached Dr. Kimmerer and said,

“You sound like my grandmother, back in my village in Turkey. In her house, we learned that everything we put in our mouths, everything that allows us to live, is the gift of another life. I remember lying with her at night as she made us thank the rafters of her house and the wool blankets we slept in. My grandma wouldn’t let us forget that these are all gifts, which is why you take care of everything, to show respect. In my grandmother’s house we were taught to kiss the rice. If a single grain fell to the ground, we learned to pick it up and kiss it to show we meant no disrespect in wasting it.”

Kimmerer concludes that in our current culture, we think that gratitude is enough in return for the gifts of the earth. But we are called to move beyond gratitude to once again become cultures of reciprocity – where in everyday life, we give thanks for what we’ve been given and then give a gift in reciprocity for what we’ve taken.


I’ve been thinking about this as it relates to the church.  We are so very grateful for our church community. And we can move beyond a culture of gratitude to one of reciprocity. Since March is our “Pledge Canvass Month,” it’s a perfect time to think about the ways in which we practice reciprocity. How do you keep the gifts the church gives you in motion? How do you give to the church and continue to receive?


I’m grateful for you, your financial commitment to our 2018-19 budget, and all the ways you offer your time and talent. Let’s make this pledge canvass the best yet and do it in a spirit of reciprocity.

With love,

Rev. Kelly

PS – Books or articles that I mention in sermons can be found by clicking here.