Thursday, July 20, 2006

farming as a spiritual discipline...

Okay, so you can tell by the title of the post that we have moved to a rural area. Much of the land around us is dedicated to one sort of farming or another. As far as I can tell, they are mostly horse farms or cattle farms. Now, my knowledge of farming is limited to the Fisher-Price toys I used to play with as child. However, over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to learn more about farming. And the more I hear, the more farming reminds me of a spiritual discipline in at least four ways.

First - Farming requires daily discipline - "The cows can't water and feed themselves." Everyday the animals have to be watered and fed...several times. This requires daily discipline to go out and do the daily chores.

Second - Farming requires patience - "You can't hurry nature" The hay grows when the hay grows. Cattle go to market when they are ready. One can't rush nature's processes which is what most farming relies on - the natural growth of plants and animals. Not to mention unknown factors such as drought or flood, too hot or too cold, and other natural phenomena. If you are a farmer, you have to be able to wait.

Third - Farming has a rhythm - Each year the same cycle happens (Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring) and the same things have to happen during the same times of the year. There is a natural progression which include periods of intense work and times of sabbath.

Finally - Farming allow plenty of time for reflection - It seems that on a farm, while one works, there is always plenty of time to reflect...on what needs to be done, on life, on the beauty of creation, whatever. Countless hours are spent fixing fence lines, mowing acres of grass, moving animals from one field to another.

Okay, so farming probably doesn't qualify as an actual spiritual discipline. Richard Foster is probably not going to add a chapter to his book, Celebration of Discipline. BUT it does seem that there are some things about farming that lend themselves to helping shape one's spiritual life. What are some parallels you might draw between farming and spiritual disciplines?

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