I spent a few days with my brother on his farm. He is in a space where satellites and towers seem to miss his place. It was nice to chat, reminisce, and laugh. I was not dressed for the farm, but still helped as best as I could. My brother pointed out several times I was setting a new fashion standard with shorts and sandals. I was careful where I walked.
I introduced Wendell Berry’s writing to my brother. Although he is more high-tech, there are qualities about my brother that remind me of Wendell Berry. They are both relatively low tech and understand the need placed on them when they use technology i.e. a car and airplane to do their work and live their life.
Farmers experience the reality of shipping animals. My brother uses Temple Grandin‘s ideas about humane treatment of animals. Good farmers know they put into and take out of the world. In some ways, we have lost sight of the cycle that we are part of in the world. We are spectators and it is easy to criticize. The cycle of life and death is entangled.
When farmers harvest, they return the parts of the plants, the weeds, and the waste into the ecosystem enriching the Earth. Human treatment of the Earth reflects the character of a person. Humaneness extended to Earth, all sentient beings, and inanimate phenomena is an imperative in enriching the Earth.
To enrich the earth I have sowed clover and grass
to grow and die. I have plowed in the seeds
of winter grains and of various legumes,
their growth to be plowed in to enrich the earth.
I have stirred into the ground the offal
and the decay of the growth of past seasons
and so mended the earth and made its yield increase.
All this serves the dark. I am slowly falling
into the fund of things. And yet to serve the earth,
not knowing what I serve, gives a wideness
and a delight to the air, and my days
do not wholly pass. It is the mind’s service,
for when the will fails so do the hands
and one lives at the expense of life.
After death, willing or not, the body serves,
entering the earth. And so what was heaviest
and most mute is at last raised up into song.
I loved this post! Deep meaning within your words.
Thank you for the wonderful comment.
You are so welcome!
Great post, Ivon! “…we have lost sight of the cycle that we are part of in the world” so true!
Thank you Amy.
That sounds like it came from Thich Nhat Hanh.
from reading an art catalogue
in paul klee’s enchanted garden
Thank you for sharing the source with me. Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of seeds as a source for the way we feel.
Beautiful. Thank you. It is so encouraging to know there are thoughtful farmers out there because mostly I hear about monstrous corporate farms, and they chill my blood.
Beautiful poem, too.
Thank you for the wonderful comment. Kathy and I talked about that after I got home and separated the corporate from the family farm which is at the heart of Wendell Berry’s writing. Kathy was raised on a farm and pointed out that abusing animals is harmful to their meat, dairy products, eggs,etc. The small farmer knows that and it is embodied in their work.
Beautifully expressed. Were the final words a quote or your own writing? Effective and touching. Judy
Thank you Judy. The last paragraph were my words, but echo reading I do about contemplative practices, from Wendell Berry, and others who speak to the way we encounter the world.