Thankful

Every good and perfect gift is from above…  James 1:17

The Grace and Main community gathers to enjoy a meal together every Thursday evening.   It’s a potluck affair.  Those who can afford it bring food to share with those who cannot.  It seems that no matter how many people show up to eat, we always have plenty to go around.  And a fine time is had by all.

Two weeks ago a young man came to our dinner for the first time.  He comes from a very poor family and is a first-year student at the local community college.   He lost his eligibility for food stamps when he became a college student.  When he came to our dinner the young man hadn’t had anything to eat for three days.  A blessing had already been said over the food, but when he sat down with his plate, I noticed that the young man bowed his head and prayed again.  Three days without eating yet he would not take a bite until he offered his own private prayer of thanks.  That scene has replayed in my mind a lot over the past week. 

I usually pray before I eat.  It is customary in our culture to give thanks to God for our food.  But how thankful am I really?  Am I as thankful as I would be if I had been three days without a meal? 

I spent part of the next day with a man who was truly thankful for a warm, dry place to sleep—because a couple of nights earlier he had slept outside in the cold rain.  I am thankful for my home, but am I as thankful as he was for a dry tent in a safe place? 

I’ve recently gotten to know a man who is thankful for continued strength as he enters a fourth month of sobriety after decades of alcoholism.  I’m thankful for my health.  But am I as thankful as I would be if I were battling addiction?

We can be sincerely thankful for our food, our homes and our health without having first experienced hunger, homeless and addiction.  But we can also take the abundance in our lives for granted, in ways that we would not if those material comforts didn’t come so easily to us.

So I have challenged myself to try to be as thankful for God’s gifts in my life as I would be if I had been suffering without them.  May I be as grateful for my next meal as I would be if I hadn’t eaten in three days.  May I be as grateful for my warm bed as I would be if I had spent the previous night sleeping outside in the rain.  May I be as thankful for my health as I would be if I had recently broken free of addiction.

And may we all remain mindful that our food, our homes and our health are good gifts from above, for which we should be very thankful.

Love Wins

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4th Generation

Here’s better pictures of our two newest kids. They are the first 4th generation kids on the farm.

Holly's kid with Fancy, one of his three mamas.

Prudence's firstborn

We’re still waiting on Judy and Marie to kid.   They’re taking their times.  By next week three more nannies will be due.  I love new life joining the farm!

Yesterday I took advantage of more amazing and unseasonably warm weather to break ground for another garden.  Like many things I do around here, doing that reminded me of a Wendell Berry poem.

We have lots of exciting things on the horizon for the farm.  The response to our CSA has been positive and we may expand beyond our original plan.  We’ll be adding beehives this spring to replace the ones we lost, so we’re also excited about having honey again.  And we’ll also be raising pigs for the first time in two years, and offering shares to our friends who want great healthy pork from pigs raised naturally and humanely.

Thanks to a great idea from Cherie, we’re also going to be making free trade coffee, tea and chocolate available through our CSA, for folks who want to enjoy those things without being complicit in slavery.

In a few weeks we’ll be hosting the debut Danville area Land and Table gathering.   Our friend Jason of Sustainable Traditions launched this initiative in the Bedford area and we were fortunate enough to attend one of the gatherings there.  The gatherings are a way sustainable farmers in the community can get together to share ideas and concerns, and to facilitate a network to promote good agriculture and good food.  We feel very privileged to be a part of kicking that off in our community.

It’s going to be a great year here on White Flint Farm.

Love Wins

Home Again

After a very long day driving, it feels good to be back home.  I spent the last week in Florida, having my brain stretched and scrambled by a theology class.  I much prefer life here on the farm where, this morning, I got to hear woodpeckers while taking big breaths of unconditioned air, scented with wood smoke.

As they are prone to do, the goats waited until I was gone to start kidding.  Sadly, three out of the five didn’t make it.  Although we’ve always seemed to have high mortalilty in the winter kidding, I was hoping that wouldn’t happen this time.  The weather was mild and we had had 15 born in November and December without a single death.  But unfortunately Peggy’s buckling didn’t make it and poor Fancy delivered stillborn twins.  But the two who were born alive (one buckling to Prudence and one to Holly) are cute and healthy.

Peggy and Holly are twins and they kidded (their first kidding) on the same day.  They seem to be co-parenting the little guy.  I saw him nursing Holly this morning and Cherie has seen him nursing Peggy, who is not his mother.  I love that they are sharing the baby.  Fancy seems to be joining in with them too.  The picture above, which unfortunately is a little blurred, is all three mamas and their jointly possessed son.  So the little dude is going to got lots of motherly love.

While in Florida I received word that I’ve been elected into “Florida Super Lawyers.”  That’s kind of funny, considering that I no longer live in Florida and no longer practice law.  I can only chuckle and shake my head.

Love Wins

Euphemisms

When I was a boy growing up on a farm, once a year when it was cold enough, we killed hogs.  At other times, cold or not, my Granny would kill chickens.

These days, to protect the sensibilities of those now removed from farm living, and who are uncomfortable with the fact that the meat on their plate comes from once living, breathing animals, the word “kill” is being replaced by goofy euphemisms.

Most folks now don’t kill chickens, they “process” them.

Sounds much less violent wouldn’t you agree?  Of course it also sounds kind of technical, mechanical and sterile.  But at least we can avoid that upleasant “k” word.

There is a group of suburbanite Navy retirees who have been coming to hunt deer on our farm every season for years.  They’re nice guys.   Last year one of them told me how many deer they had “harvested.”

Good grief.

Maybe I’m being too metaphysical about this, but it seems to me that we’re in a state of denial about killing.  So farm animals aren’t killed.  Whatever is done to them is something else.

Please stop for a moment and look at the death and killing that surrounds us daily.  Take a deep breath.  Imagine that nothing is killed, no creature’s life is extinguished, except for good.

If “killing” was never bad, we wouldn’t hide from the word.  Would we?

Love Wins

A Word From Grace and Main

Grace and Main Fellowship has launched a devotional blog, which will be updated once a week or so.

Y’all should check it out:  http://gmdevotionals.wordpress.com/

Here is last week’s post from our friend Mike Huggins

LAMINAR LIVES

I tend to think in extremes; first and last, highest and lowest, longest and shortest, all or none. I believe most people do this to some extent. For example, when I’m at work and working on a task, I am asked how long it will take. I always say something like, “that should only take an hour” which is the absolute minimum amount of time I would need to finish it, when it actually ends up taking four hours. Or when given a big problem to solve, for example, social poverty; what might be our first solution? Let’s go and spend every chance we can with people who have been socially neglected. Sounds good, right? Sure, except when we see there are so many people in need that we become overwhelmed. Generally, we think, if we can’t fully devote time, effort, strength into it, it’s not worth doing or it’s not going to be enough to solve the problem. Then, nothing gets done. So, we want to do something, but if we try to solve it thinking in extremes, we will eventually burn out.

I went to school to learn engineering. While there, I learned about how fluids flow. In my Fluid Dynamics class, I was taught that fluids flow in two categories: laminar and turbulent. Laminar fluids flow smoothly, uniformly, in one direction with very little friction. Because of this parallel flow with all particles moving in the same direction and small amount of friction, the sum of the energy output is very close to the sum of the energy input. This results in a very powerful and efficient flow. In contrast, turbulent fluids flow irregularly, chaotically, and unparallel to the overall direction of the flow. At any one point in the fluid, the speed is constantly changing in magnitude and direction. Turbulent flow is characterized by a large loss in energy due to friction. The sum of the energy output is much less than the sum of the energy input.

I tell you about fluid dynamics because I believe we can apply those fluid flow principles to our lives. We have a finite amount of energy we put into everything we do. Sometimes we will try to “do” too much to bring the kingdom of God here on Earth; other times, not enough. I believe there is a balance between the two where we are most effective at being disciples of Christ. There is a difference between trying to do so many good things and being very effective at what we do. Sometimes we are blinded by a need so big that we think we have to do everything we can to help solve it. Instead of spreading our efforts on something like this, which ends up being solely charity, what does it look like to focus our energy and try to provide some real justice? We must evaluate how we use our energy such that it shows we love God with our entire lives and we love our neighbor as ourselves.

If there are things that cause friction, slow us down, and make our lives turbulent, maybe we need to consider removing them from our flow path. These things that slow us down may be good, but they’re causing turbulence. What aspects of our lives are causing turbulence? I’m not saying that we should throw out everything that doesn’t seem effective at Kingdom work. I truly believe that having fun, not being productive and resting is part of living a balanced, laminar life. I’m saying, let’s take a look at our lives and find ways we can show the world how powerful God is; that He has a plan to heal this broken world with love.

Love Wins

Vocation

I love this quote from Parker Palmer.  It comes from his wonderful book Let Your Life Speak.

“Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. I must listen for the truths and values at the heart of my own identity, not the standards by which I must live – but the standards by which I cannot help but live if I am living my own life.”

Love Wins

Required

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Michah 6:8

Love Wins