We must act daily as critics of history so as to prevent, so far as we can, the evils of yesterday from infecting today. - Wendell Berry
I have found a lot of peace in matching my reading of Wendell Berry, with my Christian faith and my daily experiences as a farmer. One such confluence is when Berry says 'I don't believe in tomorrow because it doesn't exits' and the gospel of Matthew says "do not worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will worry about itself". Maybe you're thick headed like me and things can go in one ear and out the other. Possibly it is just our busyness that makes us act this way . But when I hear the same thing from more than one angle I typically stop and think a little more about it. To say that farming and living the way my family does has an uncertain path is putting it mildly. Being linked to animals, nature, food trends and timelines very rarely yield stress free - free wheeling - zippy de do da days. It has however slowly ground this stubborn 30 something down to learn a few thing about farming and living well. Will you indulge me for a few minutes? I'll gladly share my heart with you.
As Mr. Berry points out, the path here to not worrying about our future here is successfully wrestling with our past. Putting to rest our mistakes and making peace with our errors keeps the past from repeating itself as this days reality. I have to fess up a little here. This farmer very easily gets trapped in a cycle that only exists in my mind that can be non productive. I'll think myself in circles trying to keep unhappy or unkind things from coming out of my pie hole and dumping my crap on others. How's that working for ya? Well....I say fewer things that I regret, but keeping my thoughts all bottled up doesn't feel like a resolution at all to me. At some point on the hamster wheel of crazy there becomes only one solution that ever gets me off of it. I remember and trust the ancient.
What I mean is most of our worries about things that may or may not happen don't pan out. What we predict as worst case scenario seldom comes true, but we ( or should I say I) still persist in dwelling on it. It is past experiences of disappointment, missing out or plain old regret reminding us in our present worry that we should have concerns. That kind of thinking is a big error if we are looking for peace. The error is we let the way we last looked at issues influence our now and in the process completely underestimate the truth that ancient things promise us. The ancient promises us that the sun will rise in the new morning whether I worry it will or won't. It has since our planet was created right? The ancient promises us that love wins always in the end if we wait for it. The ancient whispers I am with you as sure as the grass grows and the birds fly. The ancient believes in seasons, rhythm, renaissance, and has never asked for our input or even participation. A good farmer knows all this almost intuitively. As I become more in sync with our farm I can lead our family through uncertainty knowing that she will march on unwavering as a reliable friend. The farm allows us to play a part in it as it was a living breathing place before we were ever there. It does not require or need us, but rather accepts us and makes us better people for being here. This is the story of my most recent faith walk. The farm has always been a living metaphor for how the Lord has worked in my restless soul. Just as the farm has always been alive and well without me, so has the Lord of all things been an ever present friend. He also believes in seasons, rhythm and renaissance and is teaching me to trust him in the same way. He simply asks me to be the kind of farmer that makes a path for provision and not obsess about predicting outcomes for then next day based on my past failures. Trust the ancient his memory is long and actions consistent, and in this long story I am a small and ever grateful part.