fostering life in farming, pregnancy and meditation

I’ve been thinking, all of us are called to help foster environments where life can flourish.

This past week I have been blessed to spend time on my sister and brother-in-law’s organic farm.  It was a bit of a retreat, of sorts, as I am in the process of preparing to renew my temporary vows and I am in the midst of some life transition.  (Please pray that I’ll be fully prepared to rededicate myself to Christ at my ceremony on July 20. Thanks!)

The simplicity of country life is healing for my soul. Among the growing plants and animals I was thinking: in ministry, prayer, and community, I am called to foster all life, for Christ is Life.  The awareness that farming is full of Christ’s life isn’t new to me.  I meditated on its endless lessons when I gave a speech of blessing at my sister’s wedding in 2010.  This past week on the farm, though, my consciousness was opened to the truth of Life in new ways.

Life flourishes in healthy community. We are all called to foster the environments that help life be fully alive.  There are a couple of ways we get to do this holy God-work.

First, to foster systems and spaces where life can flourish, we need to care for all who share an environment. I was reminded of this in many ways during my visit, but my example here relates to the impact of chemicals. Although my sister and brother-in-law don’t use chemicals on their farm, most of their neighbors do. Sadly, there was a nearly constant buzz of crop dusters interrupting what would have been otherwise a space free from human noise.  I observed a distinguishable difference in the amount of wildlife present on their chemical-free farm than in the neighbors’ fields. Just going down the driveway to my sister’s house guaranteed encounters with multiple flocks of birds who were seeking refuge in the healthy ecosystem. Naturally, birds can’t flourish in places where insecticides are killing off their food.  Our care for the other creatures who share environments with us allows others to feel safe and at home.  This reminds me of how if we love one another in our homes and communities, we can then open up our space to offer healthy, radical hospitality to those in great need of refuge. Sounds like God’s reign come to me.

Second, fostering life so it may flourish requires attention to the workings of the internal and external.  We are invited, always, to balance our attending to each.  My time visiting the farm was a mixture of prayer, reading and contemplating this translation of St. Theresa of Avila’s The Interior Castle, and also assisting with the work of weeding, cleaning and cooking.  It was a blending of internal and external attending. The book helped me gain peace about the work of balancing all elements of internal and external spiritual living.  Plus, my sister is pregnant. This is a joyous first-time thing, that offered its own profound experiences.  Listening to my sister describe the sensations of pregnancy and constantly consider how her choices were impacting her child, plus seeing the external changes to her body gave witness.  Truly, as I continue to struggle through the trials of loving Jesus with great joy, I am continually challenged to balance and integrate all the ways that God offers blessings to me, internally and externally. We all are.  All activities are full with graces that can bear the fruits of new life.

Our fostering of life shall allow justice to flourish, thanks be to God!
“Sow for yourselves justice,
reap the fruit of piety;
break up for yourselves a new field,
for it is time to seek the LORD,
till he come and rain down justice upon you.”   Hosea 10: 12

In the internal and the external, in our communities and homes, may we foster Life so it may flourish. Amen, Amen, in Jesus’ name, Amen!

“life quite full” by Julia Walsh, FSPA

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