I was on spring break all week, which meant that I spent the week frantically trying to complete projects on the farm. By yesterday, I was rushing to get the first peas in the field for spring. I knew that the rain was coming today, and I wanted them to be in before the rain. I wrestled with the planter a bit, but after a very difficult start, I did get our first planting of early peas in. This morning when I got up to do morning chores and noticed that it was raining out, I felt a sense of joy. How beautiful, I thought, that these peas are receiving exactly what they need, and that I and others will be sustained by them in a few short months.
Yesterday, while holding a handful of humble seeds in my hands, I contemplated the immense faith it takes to follow through with the task that lay ahead of me. A mere 25 lbs of pea seeds looks small and insignificant, yet they contain the potential of an entire season, just as I do. On the day of planting any crop, I commit to a significant amount of work. I prepare the soil, ensuring that the seeds have the best medium in which to prosper and grow. Then I plant the seeds carefully before returning to ensure that they all got properly covered. Some equipment for the task must also be repaired and maintained. In all, I will spend several hours of my time, and I will not reap any immediate results. I do it anyway.
When I completed the task of planting late in the day yesterday, I looked west at the setting sun. It’s departure for the day signified that it was time for me to rest as well. Even as the sun descended over the horizon, I knew it would rise again tomorrow bringing with it warmth and energy required by all living things. I had faith. I didn’t even consider the possibility that it would not rise. Looking over the newly worked soil with the peas freshly planted, I knew that the rain would come eventually, helping to awaken the seeds that I so carefully planted in those defined rows in that prepared field. I also did not consider that the rains wouldn’t come, because they always do.
Smiling from satisfaction and exhaustion from a day of hard work, I thought of those seeds waiting in the ground for the kiss of moisture and warmth from the sky. I placed my faith in them. I trusted that if I did my part, they would someday feed me and others, and they will. We are provided with what we need. For a moment, I think of the work that lies ahead, and I realize that every task on a farm is an act of faith, faith in myself, faith in the land, and faith in plants. I have to trust that activities I do today will feed me in 3, 4, or 6 months from now.
In that realization, I feel connected to the world that is around me. The robins and red-winged blackbirds are building nests, and the deer are preparing to deliver the fawns of spring. The buds are swollen on the maple trees, and the lilies are risking a peak out of their winter beds to greet the morning sun on the east side of our house. Yesterday, a flock of migrating sandhill cranes passed overhead on their way to their summer nesting grounds. These are acts of faith by the entire natural world, faith that there is not only a tomorrow, but a tomorrow worth living in.
I realize that I too am part of this natural world and that my activities are not isolated, but rather part of a greater whole, a oneness with the world in which I find myself. I find that faith begets hope, and hope fuels my actions. I think of the farm and the promise a new season brings. I feel a serenity wash over me in that moment, as I have a final realization. I am not witnessing that circle of faith and dependence from the outside. I am in that circle of causes and effects, life and death. I am overcome with awe as I realize that the seeds that I held in my hand earlier also had faith in me, faith that I, a farmer, would plant them, helping them realize their potential which was set in motion by their ancestors from the previous season. With that thought, I go inside to eat and to dream of the warm days of summer that still lie ahead of me!