Powerful People: Abby Mohaupt

This is an occasional column on powerful people doing powerful things. The Church of the 1950's is done and dead. People talk about how the Church needs to change. This column highlights people living that change now through creative thoughts, methods, and endeavors.   First up is Abby Mohaupt. Abby is an artist and Pastoral Resident at First Presbyterian Church, Palo Alto. I met Abby through Sara Miles who thought we would like each other. And we do! Abby Here Abby write about compost and yoga--two of her loves.

Every Sunday, two to four Tupperware containers appear (like magic) under my desk in my office. These containers are filled with rinds and coffee grounds and banana peels and apple cores.

Two members of my congregation used to sheepishly try to sneak this garbage into my office in paper bags and leftover lettuce bags, until I presented them with their very own reusable containers, and said for the millionth time that compost is wonderful.

I take these containers home to my compost pile, letting their contents join the weeds and worms, stems and stalks, pits and peels from meals ago.

This is real resurrection.

Turning the new earth and the earth-to-be—mixing past and present and future—soil invades my fingers nails.

The scent of earth fills my nostrils.

The heat of decomposition warms my skin.

O God, this earth is so good.

I could eat it.

These peels and rinds and pits—they are reminders of death and what has been.

They transform in the ground, resurrecting into dark earth—full of new life to give to the meal that has not yet been planted.


Every Monday, I rise before the sun and walk a block to the yoga studio to breathe deeply and let my body transform into new shapes.

Joining my class, we sit on our mats and set intentions for our practice. I always try to focus on how strong and wonderful this body of mine is.

Breathing in, I remember the breath of God.

Breathing out, I give thanks for the Spirit.

My fingers—still muddied from that new earth—spread across the mat and I push my hips up and back, my toes curling under. I give thanks for these muscles and this skin, stretching and moving.

And rising into mountain pose, I give thanks for the ground beneath me. That beautiful, eatable ground.

These are moments of God—of grace—incarnate.

I didn’t believe my body could be transformed into crow or warrior or eagle.


Home again.

I wrap my hands around my mug filled with coffee. My mug from one of my budding composters.

Not grounds.

Not compost.

Just coffee.

Breathing in, I can smell the delicious earth.