There’s so much that I am learning about living faithfully by being here in Central Pennsylvania and paying attention to all of the work around me, especially the work of those who labor in the fields and depend on rain and sun and a good growing season for their sustainability.
Those of you who know me well know that I’ve always had a “farming fantasy,” imagining that someday I might be able to work my own few acres and live close to the earth, that way. I have no illusions about farming being an easy life or idyllic- just a few hours out in my own backyard cutting and hauling brush tells me that manual labor is far from romantic or easy- but there is a call there, and for now, it is expressed in my deepening appreciation for my farmer neighbors.
This spring, as tilling and planting was taking place, something caught my eye on the farm next door to us and in the three or four other farms that I pass on a daily basis: at the end of the day, the farmers leave their tractors in the field. Right where they have finished plowing or tilling or mowing or cultivating or whatever they are doing. They do not run their tractor back to the shed or the barn for the night, but stop right there, in the place where the cutting or tilling or cultivating had ceased, and get off and go home.
Something about that was curious to me.
You see, I grew up in a house where we were told to put away our things when we were finished with them, to wash the dishes after a meal and to make the bed when we got up. It felt right, to put that hard stop at the end of whatever we were doing. As a parent, I remember many nights helping my children pick up a living room full of toys before dinner was put on the table.
But farmers leave their tractors right there. Right where they finish for the day. Because, I suspect, they know very well that they will be coming back in the morning to continue the planting, tilling or cultivating from that same spot.
I am preparing for vacation. In two days I will be signing off for four weeks. I want to finish everything on my to-do list before I go. I want to leave things tidy and not unresolved. I want to put the tractor in the barn. And, I’m trying hard to take a note from my farmer neighbors and just stop. Turn off the machine and go home for supper. Ministry is a bit like farming: the work never really ends, it is dependent on the Creator to nourish us and assist us in our growth, and those of us who think that we can control it by our sheer will or hard work are badly mistaken. And so, I’m going to continue working right up ‘till Sunday night, and then… I’m stepping away.
I’ll find you all again in September. Cheers.
(look for the blog to resume on September 15, 2017)