By Brian Hollingsworth, PHW Intern, Wake Forest University School of Divinity
A few years ago, my faith needed a breath of new life. Despite having grown up in church, being heavily involved in youth group and college ministry, and even finding a wonderful job in full-time camp ministry after college, somehow I still felt something was missing. My spiritual life felt dry, God seemed distant, and everything I taught and thought seemed to be looking toward a future that had not yet been realized, while neglecting God’s presence and love in the here and now. Something needed to change.
It was around this time that I discovered the writings of Wendell Berry and other agrarian writers and theologians, and a whole new world was opened to me. Through these readings, I was reminded of God’s love for creation, of the interconnectedness and divine qualities inherent in all things, and of God’s desire for us all to live in loving communion with one another. Suddenly God seemed tangible, and my faith felt real again. God’s goodness was evident all around me, and I wanted to be part of it.
Perhaps owing to the agrarian roots of my spiritual reawakening, I have taken a particular interest these past few years in the intersection of food and faith. As a student at Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity, I am concentrating my studies in the school’s Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative. Through courses in this initiative, I have had the opportunity to explore the ways God calls us to love creation and love one another, particularly as this call relates to food and health.
In my studies, I have visited organic farms to learn about sustainable practices and care for the earth, I have experienced first-hand how a shared meal can bridge divides and bring people together, and I have witnessed powerful and transformative work being done in our community through gardens, pantries, and a variety of ministries focused on food, health, and well-being.
Now well into my second year in divinity school, I’m grateful to be an intern with Partners in Health and Wholeness, where I am learning, among other things, how to engage others in the conversations and work that have meant so much to me these past few years. Like the excitement I felt when I discovered Wendell Berry a few years ago, being engaged with people who are passionate about food, faith, and health is bringing new energy and life to my faith. I look forward to seeing where this journey leads as I continue to travel this path toward wholeness!