Friday, April 19, 2013
Random thoughts on the boston marathon bombing man-hunt and the Good News.
All I have access to down here is CNN. Interesting to see their backtracking and how they change their reporting approach based upon the new information of the Boston bombing suspects. Previously, with no evidence, I heard them talking a lot about how this had to be domestic terrorists and probably a right wing tax person attacking on Patriots Day. Some news commentators said "they hope its a right wing American" who did this, just to help move their agenda. Now that we know who they were, they are saying "well we have to reserve judgement on them and we don't have any evidence to know if their religion influenced this"...I don't disagree. Just because they are muslim does not mean that they were taught from little on up to do this kind of stuff. But why do they report in one manner with "thumb in the wind assumptions" and then switch to a different manner of fact-based reporting??? Buzz words I'm hearing is "self-radicalized" which seems to be they're way of justifying or excusing the person's actions from any influence from their religious affiliation. Again, I don't disagree with that approach. But why then, are right-wing extremists and fundamentalists that do things totally opposite of what the Bible and Jesus teach, associated as "Christian" and a product of "the church", rather than saying that they were "self-radicalized"??? I totally support the rights of muslims and do not think they should be treated any differently than you or I. Nor do I think all muslims are trying to kill americans. It is a vocal and active minority. But so are all the people that give Jesus a bad name. And anyone who is His, hears His voice and follows Him. If you do not know Jesus as your Savior, and have been hurt in the past by "church or christian" based hypocrisy or judgmental / condemning words or actions, either by me or someone else, I encourage you to seek Him in truth and sincerity. Don't judge the good Book by the people who have used it as a cover. Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life, and no man goes to the Father except by Him. We all need Him. These two brothers have done a horrible thing, but so too you and I have the same darkness within us that can only be exposed and conquered by the Light.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
The Story of Coffee-man Clarke!
Nestled in the rolling red dirt and green vegetated hills of colorful St. Elizabeth is a district known as Top Hill in which lies a tight-knit farming community known as Ridge. It's natural beauty and pace of life remind everyone who visits that life is worth living and enjoying each day. Fields may not be much bigger than what you would consider to be a small back yard, but the diversity and abundance of the fruits of the earth grown in the red dirt will surprise you, as will the dedication and joy of those who labor to work the ground. From apples to avocados, beans to bananas, cabbage to coffee, and yams to yellow watermelon, it's almost as if they have it all, from A to Z.
Everton Clarke is a life-long resident of this community, an energetic, young-in-heart man who needs only a minute of your time to capture your mind's ability to remember his face and expression. He goes by Clarke, and his name in his community's language of Jamaican Sign Language is the handshape sign for the letter C, placed over your heart with your right hand. I must clarify, Clarke himself does not naturally speak JSL, as this is the language of Deaf persons who have attended formal school and were taught a language. You see, he never attended any formal school and like many Deaf persons in the countryside of St. Elizabeth, he communicated via gestures and oral techniques which over time, developed into a full-fledged language known today as Jamaican Country Sign language, which is entirely unique from the JSL taught in schools and developed by the broader Jamaican Deaf community today. You may think, wow, what a hard way to live! Perhaps it has had its difficulties, but what life doesn't? And certainly you are not going to meet a Clarke that in any way wants your pity, because he is not in need of it. Clarke is a man who loves life, loves Jesus and will love you too. There is nothing lacking! He is a father of three, a grandfather of many and a great-grandfather of more to come, and has been farming all his life. He'll forget more about the natural world and farming than I will probably ever learn, and he has done it all through observation and application.
He also happens to produce what is affectionately known as Clarke's coffee, a unique and flavorful brew that almost impersonates the character of the fascinating man who grows and roasts it, packing a punch and zeal not expected from such a small package. You don't want to drink this stuff too late in the day or you'll find yourself rolling in bed instead of dreaming of the hills of St Elizabeth. The trick to his trade is the techniques he learned over 50 years ago from his mother, passed down from generation to generation. The coffee is grown sporadically, mixed in among other fruits and vegetables, and carefully picked at the proper time. After a period of drying, the bean is then separated from the hull by a method you have to see for yourself, an old hollowed out tree which is pounded with a large, smooth headed piece of wood, similar to what is a mortar and pestle. After the chaff is separated and removed, the remaining bean is then hand-roasted over an open fire in a small building built specifically for roasting coffee. The coals are kept so that a simple stirring and little fresh air bring the flame to life without striking a match, quickly bringing the spicy scented beans to a crackle and pop and the release of that deep, earthy smell that percolates our morning sensations. Depending on whether you want it ground or whole bean, and how much you want, Clarke knows just the amount to roast. After diligently roasting a pan, Clarke empties the beans into a mill-style grinder and as he begins turning the wheel, the enamoring smell of fresh roasted Jamaican coffee floods your senses.
This is the coffee you can have as your own, for only $20 a pound it is less than the world-renown Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, but tells a story as invigorating as the first sip!
Top Hill Coffee Roasters, an organic coffee grown in the Jamaican parish of St. Elizabeth and hand-roasted, providing a one-of-a-kind flavor and sure to make you hop! Purchase yours today! All proceeds go to Clarke, packaging and labeling and the remaining profit is used to provide sustainable jobs for Deaf workers.