I am not typically a person inclined to gardening, farming, or other such earthy pursuits. My wife is the gardener in the family. Today was an exception. A group from the seminary spent the morning planting peppers at Shalom Farms, a faith-based farm operation outside Richmond that works with groups or neighborhoods in Richmond that otherwise will not necessarily have access to much food at all, much less the freshly-grown type.
Despite the fatigue/stamina issues that plagued me earlier this week, the morning passed without incident. It helped that much of the work could be done from a sitting position, even if that meant dirty jeans from scooting around by the seat of my pants (literally). Good fellowship helped to pass the time and to be less bothered by the gradually-encroaching heat of the day.
There are far more eloquent and informed authors on such subjects as food security, the benefits of local food, and other issues that a group like Shalom Farms addresses. There are also far more eloquent and informed authors on the relationship between being aware of the Earth and its condition and Christian faith. This is not a space in which I'm going to go into those topics, not tonight at least. I got through the morning just fine, but I'm not that energetic at the moment. I merely raise them to indicate, between today's activity and my May term class, that these are things on my mind at the moment.
It's hard not to think of such things, when my compadres back in Lawrence were posting pictures of snow on Facebook on May 2, or when one reads of the wacky drought/flood cycles of Australia's Murray-Darling river system, not helped by dam building and development. When the earth's weather puts one in mind of a pendulum gradually swinging out to greater and greater extremes (more drought-y droughts, more destructive floods, Category 1 hurricanes that flood like Category 3 hurricanes, winter that lasts until May (and at least in this area, didn't really seem to get going until March)...it is hard to feel like the world is well. One begins to wonder if the word "normal" applies any more in any meaningful sense.
My planting a few peppers this morning will not make much of a dent in that, nor in the degree to which folks living in housing projects will actually be able to eat much of anything healthy (though, combined with the labor of others, it does make some dent there). This kind of realization leads some to decide that, since their contribution is small and not necessarily difference-making, they might as well not bother. One might see this as a matter of too much humility, or perhaps of despair. I suppose one could, if not feeling charitable, spin it as a kind of arrogance -- "if I'm not that important in the scheme of things, I'm not going to bother with it... ." As I said, that would be a non-charitable interpretation. That doesn't necessarily make it untrue, in some cases, I suppose.
So, I went grubbing around in the dirt this morning. It make me tired. It didn't make me holy. It made me happy, sort of. And it made me think. That can't hurt.