I’ve been told that the traditional summer months of vacation that our school age children and teens enjoy each year is a result of our history…as a nation of farmers and ranchers.
Of course, the nation as a whole would be characterized as more urban and suburban than rural in 2017; but in the four deaneries of our diocese, farming and ranching is still a way of life for many.
And I thank God for this.
Why so? Why would this Georgia transplant from the city of Atlanta thank God for rural life in central Louisiana?
Well, for one thing, the farmers and ranchers feed us….feed the world. Fresh vegetables, an abundance of meat and poultry and fish, the grains and the milk that sustain us…these are obvious reasons for rejoicing in the gifts that farmers and ranchers offer us.
But in addition to these obvious reasons, and the jobs that farms and ranches provide some of our people, a key grace that I have experienced when visiting the parishes and missions of mostly rural central Louisiana…..is a spirituality of work and humility and ownership:
1. Work: Pope St. John Paul the Great spoke about this often…how we had the opportunity to be co-creators with God, through the dignity of work. All work has an innate dignity, but farmers and ranchers have a special grace. They must depend on what they cannot control!
2. Humility: Farmers and ranchers can plan and organize. These men and women put in long hours….of good work. These farmers and ranchers use science and the oral traditions of the elders to bring about a great harvest.
But they must depend upon rain and sun and fair weather. As these cannot be controlled, a learned humility is part and parcel of their make-up. And as the Lord Jesus reminded His followers….humility of heart is the open door to God’s life, God’s heart.
3. Ownership: In central Louisiana, there are great swaths of land owned by corporations and by generations of farmers and ranchers. But there are also small farms and ranches, family owned and family run; and lots of our people have a garden in the back yard, where vegetables and fruit trees are harvested joyfully, from back yard to kitchen table.
We are created to be the very image of God (Genesis 1.27), as a likeness for the community of self-giving love that is the Holy Trinity. This mirroring of God…in each and every human person and in each and every relationship has been tarnished…distorted…by our actions, our choices…as we have sought to control reality, as if WE were in charge of all, as if WE were the Lord of life and death. Yeshua…Jesus of Nazareth, in His victory over sin and death….He has made it possible for us…to live a life as intended: to work with joy and commitment, to see all as gift through a humble heart and to know that we have a part to play…an “ownership” of the Kingdom being built in the Spirit.
As long as we remember who the Vine of Life is and how we are connected to this Vine, as productive branches….July will bring a great harvest…of foodstuffs…and souls.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
(For The Greater Glory of God)