“farming brings us face to face with the fact that we are poor; that we have to work for the things we need, or do without them.” (catherine Doherty, ‘apostolic farming’)

soil fills black my fingernails, and i touch God’s face when i’m gardening. we’re bowed low in tilted evening light and the air is full of bird-song and lilacs. we’re cleaning up the rows, all corn and potato and onion, and there are callouses of prayer on our palms, the prayers of the hard-working, and this, the truest form of prayer.

“the apostolic farmer … deals with the mystery of life,” says doherty, a catholic woman from russia who founded st. benedict’s acres near ottawa. “he touches God all the time in the mystery of nature and so can easily give God to others — for he is familiar with him. there are in the world two people who really touch God. the priest touches God in his very essence. the farmer touches God in his creation as it comes from his hands.”

he’s kneeling over the peas, cleaning their stems so they can stretch tall around the wire, produce unfurling pod. “i can’t wait until we can eat them,” he says with a boyishness that startles the quiet. and i think on how all of life is wrapped up in single moments: how you can know this moment so full because of the others that have seeded, bloomed, and faded. right now, husband is boy is teacher is man is father, is disciple learning at the hem of God’s cloak here in our backyard. perhaps this is life eternal? the gift hidden inside a thousand boxes?

the rows tidy and the soil sifts through skin and peace, here, for poverty of spirit. bowed over a world we have no control over.

and i cannot find the words for all of the ways my friends are hurting: for one, who lost her mother; for another, who held her blue baby by the side of the road waiting for the seizure to end, wondering if it ever would, and i have no words, and so i garden, hoping somehow by this bent-over act he’ll hear. knowing this is where i stem from, this place of bulb and plant and weed, and to this, i will return. and does it get more holy?

“slowly our farmers have begun to understand Genesis,” says doherty. “that we really were given the earth to preserve and to restore.”

thankful this week for:

401. thunderstorm on friday, rain washing the dry away
402. playing cards on our deck while the rain came down
403. preparing for trip to colorado this week for hungry for hope conference
404. having family/maternity photos taken by friend
405. staining the fence full
406. seeing my flowers open
407. sitting, just sitting, and having that be enough
408. the promise of new
409. the comfort of old
410. popcorn and movies and afghans

*please note, friends: there will be no ‘imperfect prose on thursdays’ this week, as i’ll be speaking at the conference. all my love…*