Drifts and banks of snow have been in retreat for the last couple of weeks here on the high ground where I live in Central New York State. Small remnants of the once-great force that dominated this landscape now cower on the north sides of hills and in ditches and other hollows.
Hunkered down, away from the sun, crusty, cold platoons hang on, waiting for reinforcements. But their days are numbered. None will survive. And I am glad of it.
Winter is a metaphor for hardship, pain, loss, disappointment, and sorrow. Such things come, like the cold and snow, for their season. But the Son has the power to melt through the pain. To bring new life. To bring healing. I am grateful for that.
God chose to create this earth we live on presicely distanced from a fiery orb that we call the sun. His sun is a metaphor for His Son, Jesus Christ. The sun brings light and life into a world that would be otherwise dead. His Son brings light and life into the lives of people who are otherwise dead in their sins.
And the moon is a metaphor for God’s people. Like the moon, we do not, in ourselves, have the ability to produce light—only to reflect the light of the Son.
Remember that the next time you look up at the moon. Remember that all of creation reflects His glory.
Last month, on a cold and windy day, I pruned my grapes. Pruning is a work of agrarian artistry. We become co-laborers and co-creators with God when we prune a fruit tree or bush or vine.
And there, within the grape vine and the act of pruning, we find yet another spiritual metaphor. God is, after all, the Master Pruner. It is a sobering thing to consider:
I am the true vine and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. John:15 1-2
It took me about 45 minutes to prune my short row of grape vines. They are Concord grapes, which make a most delectable juice. We can it in quart jars. Nothing but grape juice goes in the jars. We ration it through the year. We pour it into small glasses to sip and savor. Some of us dilute the concentrated goodness with water. Some of us sweeten the natural tartness with a bit of maple syrup. Not me. I like mine straight out of the Mason jar.
When I was finished with my pruning work, I wished there was more to do. I would love to have spent a whole day pruning a whole vineyard of my own grape vines. Perhaps even a whole week of pruning would be better. It is the kind of work I believe God intended for men to do. It is harder but far more satisfying than your average non-agrarian job.
God provides an abundance of agrarian illustrations in His word to communicate truth to His people. Can one who has never pruned a grape vine understand a Biblical lesson in which God speaks of pruning a vine? Yes, of course. But the act of actually pruning brings His word alive: it brings a greater depth of understanding.
Agrarian object lessons from His word are something to consider while doing the work. Such thoughts lead to reflection and, ultimately to praise and thanksgiving.
Dilbert cubicles and factory environments do not lend themselves to such reflection.
A Possum Tale
This is the time of year when possums are on the move. We start seeing them along the road, dead and alive. One moved into our hen house the other night. The hens, normally quiet through the evening, were greatly alarmed and making a ruckus. My sons, Robert and James, sprang into action. They headed out into the dark with a gun and a dog.
Annie the dog went into the hen house first. The possum played possum. Annie sniffed and ignored it. So James shot it. Mr. Possum, with his 50 needle sharp teeth, had killed one chicken before meeting his demise.
A Raccoon Tale
My friend, Steve, has something of a reputation for daring feats. He once told me about the time he responded to a nighttime hen house alarm when he was a teenager. Armed with a baseball bat and a flashlight, he opened the hen house door and shined the light in. The glowing eyes of a big coon looked back at him. What would you do if you were in such a situation?
Well, Steve went in and latched the door behind him.
He told me that, until that night, he didn’t know raccoons could run across ceilings, upside down. The critter was running circles—up the wall, across the ceiling, down the wall, across the floor, again and again, very fast, until Steve finally nailed it.
Stuck on The Roof
I could tell you stories about my friend Steve. Here’s one:
Steve and I were in the home remodeling business together for several years. Once we were both up on a two-story roof, checking out the shingles. A gust of wind came along and blew our ladder down. No one was home and we were out in the country with no neighbors around to yell to for help. What would you do if you were in that predicament?
As we were assessing our situation, Steve walked to the edge of the roof, looked down at the ground and bent his knees, as if he were going to jump, and that is exactly what he was going to do. Against my protestations, he assured me he could do it. He had been a paratrooper in the U.S. Armay (82nd Airborne Division). The Army taught him how to jump.
There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that he could, and would, jump off the two-story roof. I had to talk him out of it. A few minutes later Steve came up with another option. He reached around, hugged the sides of a concrete block chimney with his arms and knees, and slid to the ground.
A Bear Tale
With spring about to break, I feel like I’m coming out of hibernation. My winter lifestyle has been way too indoor-focused. But I’m not a possum coming out of hibernation. I’m more of a bear. An overweight bear. Once again, I’ve gained some unwanted winter weight about the stomach area. It’s nothing that some hard work around the garden and homestead won’t rectify.
I always come out of winter craving physical work in the outdoors. Not exercise. Work. There is a difference. Exercise is a shallow and unfulfilling substitute for working physically in the midst of God’s creation. Which gives me an idea....
The Deliberate Agrarian Weight Loss Program
There are so many diets and exercise programs for helping people loose weight. I think I should develop my own. I’m going to come up with a special "new" agrarian weight loss program for the masses of overweight Moderns.
For advertising purposes, I’ll take a "before" picture of me coming out of hibernation with a flabby gut. Then, next to that picture will be another of me after a spring, summer, and fall of working around the homestead—-hoeing the soil, digging, forking compost, chopping firewood, moving chicken tractors, and hauling feed. In the "before" picture I’ll look sad, tired, bored, pale-skinned, and badly in need of a haircut. But in the "after" picture, I’ll be toned and tanned with a radiating healthy appearance.
For the diet part of the agrarian program, we will eat heavily from the garden. It will be homegrown, local and always Authentic food. We will also eat things like wholesome whole-grain breads, homemade granola, raw milk, eggs from the hen house, meat from home-raised animals, and cultured probiotic foods like yogurt. We will satisfy our sweet tooth with maple-syrup-and-honey-sweetened, homemade-from-scratch desserts. For our thirst we will eschew any drink that lists as it’s second ingredient (right after water), "high fructose corn syrup." Ice cold well water will suffice, perhaps with some lemon squeezed into it.
Oh, what a diet program! Oh, what a life!
But wait....There’s More!
Order The Deliberate Agrarian Weight Loss Program now (operators are standing by) and I’ll include (absolutely FREE!) a special Agrarian Abs workout video showing how you can develop the lean abdominal muscles of a hardworking farmer. No, not a modern tractor-jockey-farmer with a computer and GPS in the cab of his air conditioned mega tractor, but a real, down-and-dirty, hoe-in-hand farmer—an organic farmer. A Grade-A Certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture organic farmer.
Agrarian Abs will feature tried and true techniques for lifting and throwing hay bales. This new video will also reveal long-lost hay bale handling secrets of the old timers. And that’s not all... You’ll learn how to fork manure from the ground up into a wagon. You'll start by forking lightweight aged horse manure and work your way up to soaking wet cow manure with straw bedding right out of the barn gutter!
Yes, you can and will develop organic agrarian abdominal muscles in no time when you watch and follow the workout techniques in my Agrarian Abs video. Hurry. Order today........
My Newest Book
Well, on second thought, I think I’ll just stick to finishing up the agrarian how-to book I’m currently putting together. It’s not nearly as exciting as a new weight loss program. But I think a lot of gardeners, homesteaders, and small farmers out there will find the book of great interest and I’ll have more to say about it in the days ahead. It looks like I’ll be working on the for another month yet. Good things take time.
But if you are able also to be free...
Terry Carnes has written an essay that resonated with me over at his blog, An Emergent Agrarian. It is about spiritual bondage, financial bondage, occupational bondage, and finding freedom. I recommend it to you. Click Here to read the essay.
Even though I am not done with my book project, this blog entry marks my return, after a two-month absence, to the world of Christian-agrarian blogging. I will probably blogg less frequently than before, but I will be blogging. It's good to be back.
The Barn Project: Beginnings - A few months ago I remember walking through the yard and finding Stewart standing, staring at the old cabin and camper. I stood next to him and stared for ...
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