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Staking Our Claim

June 19, 2023

Maribeth Barber Albritton

The Cultivating theme for 2023 is “Reclaiming” and each seasonal edition of Cultivating this year will explore a topic that is tied to it. The topic for Summer is Staking, a word that evokes not only support and structure, but also the idea of courageously asserting one’s claim to something—a promise, an identity, a conviction. Please join us this season as we work together through our understanding of what staking means, especially for us in the labour of reclaiming and restoring the wholeness of life intended for us.

When I hear the word “staking,” a beloved scene from one of my favorite films comes to mind. In fact, this scene is so ingrained in me that I referenced it in one of my past articles, “Making This House My Home.” 

The film is called Far and Away, an old-fashioned American fairytale if ever there was one. During the climactic scene, Irish immigrant Joseph Donnelly drives a stake into the ground and cries, “This is my land! Mine by destiny!” It’s the moment we (and he) think we’ve been waiting for the whole movie…until he realizes, almost too late, that claiming his land means nothing if Shannon, the woman he loves, isn’t at his side. 

Thankfully, the movie doesn’t end there: Joseph and Shannon are able to re-drive the stake into their very own plot of Oklahoma prairie. But Joseph’s initial claim is rendered even more powerful by the final shot of their hands clasped around the stake. By that point in the story, they’ve both risked everything to start a new life in America. But the moment they declare ownership together over what is rightfully theirs is the moment they claim their truest destiny. 

On that note, allow me to welcome you to Cultivating’s summer issue, “Staking”—and to explain a little of what we’ll be exploring over the next several weeks through our poetry, prose, and visual artistry.

In “Naming,” we looked at how we establish our awareness of self, the spheres God has placed us in, and the lives we have been given. In “Assessing,” we dug even deeper, considering where we are in our growth, who we are becoming, and where we still are going. Naming and assessing are both very internal and often intense practices, and the essays and poems of those two issues reflected that intensity. 

But staking, as Lancia explained as we prepared for this topic, “is a more demonstrable action with more public expression. To stake is something to do. There is a visible quality to staking, even in relationships, mental boundaries, or risking an act of faith … Staking is an essential practice in becoming whole, and reflects something elemental in God’s intentions for us.” 

This issue, then, will explore four different ways we can drive stakes in our own lives: 

    • tethering, attaching, or setting in position 
    • visibly establishing boundary lines 
    • taking risks: having an interest in the turn of events, and having something to gain or lose
    • creating structure to support and guide a growing thing or person 

Like Joseph and Shannon, we assert our ownership of something when we lay stake to it. That “something” could be a boundary, an identity, a clear promise given by God to His children, or even a new season of life. There is risk involved, yes—and for those of us who aren’t accustomed to asserting our ownership over anything, it can be quite terrifying. But God is always calling us to move towards growth and the wholeness He offers us—and staking is an outward demonstration of that growth and the courage that comes with it. 

So as we roll out our summertime series of essays, poems, and recipes, we invite you to ponder a few of the questions Lancia offered to The Cultivating Project fellowship as we delved into the topic of “Staking”:

    1. Does the idea of staking what is given you seem like something God would bless, or does it seem defiant and willful? How do you justify drawing boundaries or staking lines in your life?
    2. Explore the word ‘staking’ as an action word. Where have you seen it done in Scripture, literature, visual art or film? 
    3. What do you fear about staking in your own life? Where do you need help in knowing what it means to ‘tether your dwelling place’ to the ground God has given you? 
    4. What in your life is worth claiming in public? Where do you need to stake boundaries in your life that warrant holy and righteous defending?
    5. When you think of what it is to reclaim something, what comes to mind? How does staking relate to this? Do you have longings and deep aches that you need to be more honest with the Lord about in reclaiming? 
    6. What role might staking play in reclaiming something that is rightfully yours? Is this something you are afraid to look at or answer? If it is, why? 
    7. What is the connection of staking with abiding? With being brave? With being beloved? 
    8. Why does God care about your staking – your dwelling place, your boundaries, your risks, your growth? Why does where you set your stakes matter to Him? 

Welcome, friends, to “Staking.” May these questions and our replies to them give you courage as you pursue with us the holy work of reclamation and wholeness. 

“Enlarge the place of your tent, And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes.” Isaiah. 54.2 (NKJV)

The featured image, “Clare Bridge Three Years Later,” is courtesy of Lancia E. Smith and is used with her glad permission for Cultivating.


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  1. Carolyn B says:

    I’m itchy with anticipation (or maybe that’s just my weed-scratched arms)… Looking forward to reading all your carefully curated words on “Staking” this summer!

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