Julie and Pat Garvey

Recently, we had the pleasure of talking with Julie and Pat Garvey, active members of the Bread of Life community, and co-owners of Flora Springs Winery & Vineyards. Julie was introduced to Bread of Life five years ago and quickly sampled its offerings – Quadratos, Spiritual Direction internship, a two-year Practicum in Contemplative Dialogue. Her excitement about the programs drew Pat, her husband of 40 years, into the steadily growing community of Bread of Life. Their support for the mission of Bread of Life is life-giving and is valued beyond measure.

"The energy of Bread of Life is generative. It is a refreshing antidote to the voices of "not enough", "be afraid", "be defended". It invited us to live wholeheartedly, compassionately and authentically. And when I sit in the art gallery and see the amazing creations that surround the room and then speak to some of the artists, I learn even more about the richness that lies in each heart." Julie Garvey

BOL: What brought you to Bread of Life and how long have you been associated with the organization?

Julie: I had heard about Bread of Life for several years before I actually had a chance to meet Sandra and Jean and come to the Center. When I finally made the trip to Sacramento to attend a monthly Quadratos group meeting, it is safe to say that I was hooked! I will always be grateful to Marjorie Hoyer Smith for introducing me to Quadratos and, obviously, BOL. Several years later, when an opening occurred in the internship in the Art of Spiritual Direction program, again it was Marjorie who encouraged me to apply for the position that she was leaving. What a gift that was! In August 2014, I completed a two-year practicum in Contemplative Dialogue that has been life changing and an important and tangible part of my spiritual practice.

Pat: Obviously, I was introduced to Bread of Life through Julie. I could almost taste her excitement. And, as with most things, she put her heart and soul into the programs that were available there. Then one day, she asked me, “Would you mind if we became contributors to Bread of Life?” And so, we did. Later, Sandra and Jean invited us to dinner and I said, “Oh, great, I’ll finally get to see this place!” But then I learned that the dinner was not going to be at the Center. Sensing my disappointment, Julie talked to Jean and I got a VIP tour. I, too, was touched by the Spirit that is alive there.

BOL: What feeds your enthusiasm for it?

Julie: When I grew up in San Francisco, I spent most of my summers at the local park playing tennis. The park was the nexus between the more affluent white community, the African-American community, the Filipino community, and the Chinese and Japanese communities, young and old. I would head up to the park mid-morning and basically spend entire day playing tennis or waiting to play. We all got to know each other and care for each other. There was never a time when I felt unsafe. There was no such thing as “other.” George, an elderly Filipino man taught me the “slice” serve and how to use angles and finesse to counteract the power of the young men who swaggered home from college each summer to challenge him. An African American man who had lost his left arm would tuck his racket under his stump while he threw the ball up and then grabbed his rack in a seamless action that connected for a perfect serve. The only time our group was disrupted was after the Watts Riots when a curfew was placed on the Fillmore District. Several days later, we returned to the park as if nothing had happened. These experiences taught me how important connection is and how fear and otherness often are a function of distance rather than reality. It seems to me that Bread of Life, in some ways, is like that park…it is a place of connection.

Pat: I had an experience similar to Julie’s. As the eldest of 8 children, I worked in the fields in San Jose picking fruit to raise money to help out at home and to pay my tuition to a private school. I also worked one summer at Levi Strauss and I have an indelible memory of the men who worked there who bore tattoos on their arms from their experience in German camps during World War II.

BOL: Why is it important for you to support Bread of Life?

Julie: Often the world news can be disheartening but Bread of Life represents a ray of light. It is like a pebble in the pond. It sends out ripples that extend beyond its immediate community. Because of my experience at Bread of Life, I have been able to introduce Quadratos and Contemplative Dialogue to my local community. It has also deepened and enriched my practice of spiritual direction.

Like the tennis courts that formed a meeting place in my growing-up years, Bread of Life allows people from all walks of life to gather in a place that is safe enough to be unsafe. It is place of transformation. Can you imagine what our world would be like if Bread of Life existed in every city!?

The energy of Bread of Life is generative. It is a refreshing antidote to the voices of “not enough”, “be afraid”, “be defended”. It invites us to live wholeheartedly, compassionately and authentically. And when I sit in the art gallery and see the amazing creations that surround the room and then speak to some of the artists, I learn even more about the richness that lies in each and every heart.

Pat: I see the necessity of BOL’s mission and the concreteness of its action and want to support that.

BOL: What role, do you think, Bread of Life serves in the community?

Julie: The song refrain comes to mind: “All are welcome in this place.” Bread of Life was intentionally located in a challenged neighborhood and it is obviously a gift to the folks who live in the neighborhood. And, at the same time, it is also a gift to the folks who do not live in the neighborhood who come to participate as volunteers or as teachers or as spiritual directors or as participants. It calls us to communion.

Pat: Bread of Life serves as a bridge and gathering place. It is a sign of hope and connection.

BOL: What would you tell someone who is not familiar with Bread of Life about its mission and impact on people’s lives?

Julie: Bread of Life’s tagline expresses this so well: “Cultivating practices that change lives.”

But, if I had to say more, I would talk about bread. When I was a young girl, learning to make bread at my mother’s side, I was immediately struck by the awe in her voice when she would say, “See this dough? Feel it, it’s ALIVE!” And I would nod…always surprised how we could go from such a sticky mess to a silky dough ball that responded to my touch. And she would bless it and then cover it for the necessary time. Hours later, it would emerge as a beautiful and enticing and irresistible hot loaf of bread. The ingredients had somehow grown and multiplied. This is what Bread of Life does…it takes ordinary ingredients, the stuff of everyday life and it gives us the tools, the leavening, and the place to stir and knead and be transformed so that we can show up differently in this world of ours – a world that so needs to be fed.

BOL: Did you have any role models while you were growing up? What did you like about them?

Julie: My parents were my primary role models and I am so fortunate. They were amazing human beings who in their long lives showed me, how to live, not only when they were most vital but also in their last years when they embraced diminishment and finally death. Their lifelong love affair (67 years) was also an example to Pat and me. In spite of Dad’s amazing accomplishments, I never heard him use the “I” word. This did not come from a false modesty … I am sure he was aware of his considerable talents …but it was an acknowledgement of the team that he and Mom formed that allowed him to be his fullest and best self. Mom was my teacher. She breathed warmth, vitality, wisdom and love into my life. I loved my parents’ humor, their work ethic, their generosity, their continual love of learning, and their clear mindedness.

I can name many other role models, and the consistent thread through that list is that they all invited me to see things in a new way and they challenged me to show up more authentically.

Pat: Of course my parents are at the top of the list. I am the oldest of eight so you can imagine the energy that existed around my house. My parents’ work ethic, their commitment, their humor and their ability to see the good in everyone were important to who I am. They were people of great and deep faith.

I was also influenced by several of my coaches, in particular, Carlos Ogden who was a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. One would never know it. His humility was noticeable.

BOL: Tell us more about your career/professional life?

Pat: In 1978, I left a job as a college administrator to move to Napa Valley with Julie to manage the vineyards of our family business. [I feel like a lot of this is summed up in the answer to the next question.]

Julie: One of the joys of my life was working in our family business, Flora Springs Winery and Vineyards. We started at a time in the wine business when all you needed was to make incredible wine and people would come and seek you out. It really wasn’t about a huge financial investment but rather a willingness to work and create. We lived right next door to the winery and I remember our older son would sit on a real tractor, parked outside the kitchen window while I prepared dinner. My parents and my brother and his family lived on the same property. It was remarkable. There wasn’t a job that we hired someone to do that we didn’t do first: from cleaning the toilets, to picking the fruit, to crushing the grapes, to selling the wine. No two days were ever the same. One day, we might be shoveling pumice and another day we might be doing a cooking show on television. At one point, my brother appointed himself general manager of the winery and asked me to head up sales. Clearly he didn’t remember all the Girl Scout cookies that we had been doomed to eat because I was too shy to sell them. I found that telling our story and letting the wine speak for itself seemed to be enough. Pat took over the vineyards and became a great innovator – hand harvesting at night when the fruit was cool and crisp, working with different trellis systems, and rootstocks and clones…and most importantly, spearheading improved farmworker housing in the Napa Valley that is the envy of any farming community.

BOL: What are you most proud of in your life? Is there a particular accomplishment that you would like to share with us?

Pat: Life to me has been a gift. And a gift needs to be loved and appreciated and never taken for granted. This is how I look at every day of my life.

Certainly my three college degrees have been an accomplishment and being elected to a National Bank Cooperative or being picked to be on a number of local and state Grape Grower Boards are noteworthy. My grass roots efforts to bring Farm Worker Housing to the forefront in the Napa Valley with the participation of various county and city agencies plus grapegrower and vintner associations all working together to provide facilities that are now unmatched in the State was an accomplishment. I was also humbled recently to be given the Napa Valley Grape Grower of the Year Award. My parents and family and the Napa Valley winegrower community plus local and state politicians attended this honor.

Taking all the above into account doesn’t compare to 40 years of marriage to the love of my life, Julie. Each minute, hour and day with her is like experiencing Paradise each. Together we have raised two beautiful sons who make us smile when we think of them. They are a joy to be around and we savor each moment with them.

Julie: Like many people, I dreamed of many accomplishments: winning Wimbledon, solving world hunger, etc. But, I am learning as I attend more memorials and funerals, that while those kind of great accomplishments are certainly noteworthy and necessary, it is those folks who have lived authentically that have left a trail of stardust that gives people the hope to reach for the stars.

When I left our family wine business after 25 years to go to the Franciscan School of Theology, people noticed and, incredibly, it mattered to them. It surprised me when one gentleman with whom I had worked told me that he was inspired by my actions to sell his business to his employees! And others told me that they now felt it wasn’t too late to follow their own dreams of going back to school. Listening to that inner voice that continues to challenge me to go to my growing edges and to trust the grace that is there, has given me the tools to help others do the same. My great joy is in helping people live into the fullness of who they are and to recognize that they are beloved.

And, when I speak of joy, I have to mention Pat. Even after 40 years of marriage, my heart still skips a beat when he comes in at the end of the day! I believe that our marriage has allowed each of us to grow more fully into our best selves.