Dateline: 15 September 2014
|Spring in The Country, by Iowa artist, Grant Wood|
“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”
—Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
I first came across this quote just last year – 2012. Leopold's book was first published in 1949, the year after his death. So, I am admittedly late to his party, and I doubt that he and I would agree upon theology. Yet this quote embodies much of why I have made the choices I have made in my life, and the way in which I have raised my children.
If we are disconnected from the production of those things which are essential for our survival, we become arrogant. Arrogance is a spiritual disease. If we think that our desires can be fulfilled at the mere turn of a faucet, touch of a button or click of a mouse, then we will thoughtlessly fulfill those desires without discerning the true costs.
In Genesis 3, God declares, “By the sweat of your brow you shall eat your bread.” That is a true cost, and I have not seen evidence that God has changed His mind. A related principle of life I have observed is that if I am not sweating for my bread, then my choice forces someone else to sweat twice as hard. Such knowledge wears on my conscience, so I garden for some of my food and cut wood for some of my heat in order to sweat for some of my bread.
If I can't humble myself in order to meet my own needs of daily bread, then I have succumbed to the arrogant vision of the society in which we live. I have shared my vision with my family. As my children grew, they helped in the garden, helped cut firewood, and had a small dairy goat herd that they milked twice every day. The goats left when the children left home, but my children, now adults, often still choose to return home and aid me in my Quixotic journey in the pursuit of justice. May God bless them!
To further illustrate the nature of true costs, I will end with a story my father told me. When he returned to his parents' farm in 1946 after his military service in World War II, he continued to raise livestock there even while he pursued other employment. One day he was filling a hog water via water pumped by the windmill. He became occupied in other things and forgot that the hog water was filling. Inevitably, it overflowed, flooded the pen, and made a big mess that he had to clean up. As he cleaned up the mess, his father came over, leaned on the fence, and said, “You know, this never happened back when you had to hand pump the water into buckets and carry it over to the pen.”
|Spring in Town, by Grant Wood|