Life on the Farm: Vol. 13

I can feel it, you guys. It’s finally lifting. The doom and gloom of winter is starting to recede, and despite the forecast still showing day after day of little rain clouds, there is green and there is life and SPRING is coming. Outside and in my heart. And though the craziness of harvest season looms in the not-so-distant future, life on the farm this time of year is just absolutely stunning. I can’t get enough.

After a lovely few days with my brothers in town, the three of us spent most of the day Sunday working outside. Pruning fruit trees, picking up branches, mowing the grass, planting the first round of seeds in our garden and appreciating the new life springing up all around us. In case you can’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed myself wandering around our little homestead, capturing the glory of the day.

As usual, Emmett was thrilled to assist Dad with the mowing operation and I couldn’t resist snapping a million photos of them cruising around the yard. Once, as they rounded the corner near the bed I was working in and drove right by, Emmett reached down and grabbed the steering wheel to help his Dad make the turn. Like he knew it was a tough one and just wanted to make sure Dad had it under control. He was so serious. And so very sweet.

After getting all inspired about gardening last week and cleaning out my beds, I decided to throw a few of last year’s seeds in the ground. I’m wanting to do “shifts” in the garden this year instead of just one planting, so I started out with some veggies that’ll do just fine in the cooler weather.

In the first two beds Emmett and I dug in some rainbow carrots, radishes, spinach, a few types of lettuces, peas, onions and chiogga beets. I can’t wait to see little green shoots popping up in a couple weeks! I also threw some parsley and chamomile seeds into the herb bed to pump things up a bit. I’ll add basil, cilantro and a few other herbs once the weather gets warmer, but I didn’t have the seeds on hand so those’ll have to wait. It felt good just to get things going!

As Emmett is more and more independent these days, I’ve been wanting to add a few things back into my life in the realm of self-care. One of my favorite ways to take time for myself is by curling up with a good book. So, when Amanda announced she was starting an online bookclub, I jumped at the chance. Our first book is The Hidden Life of Trees and while it’s bit of a stretch for me- not something I would probably ever have grabbed off the shelf on my own-I’m really enjoying it. It is just what it sounds like; a very factual account of the life of trees. Mainly, what goes on in and around them, and though there’s a lot of scientific information, the whole book is basically one giant, beautiful metaphor for humanity.

If we learn to look and listen, trees can model to us how to relate to one another, take things slow, communicate, have relationships, share with each other, help one another, raise children, work together, grow and eventually, die with grace. It’s not a religious book in any way, but it has already blown me away with the way it speaks to the divine found in nature. So clearly revealing the intricacy and purposefulness of creation, and how, if we pay attention, all those beautiful little details can lead us to Truth.

The last few years have been a somewhat intense period of examination for me, as far as my faith goes. I felt for a while I’d lost it; lost my faith in the things I’d been taught as a child and clung to as I grew up. I think its pretty normal, really. You emerge on the other side of adolescence, a time marked by self-involvement, and you “get over yourself.” The teenage fog lifts, and all of a sudden you have to decide who you really are and what you really believe. You get out into the world and your “theories” are put to the test. No longer surrounded by the same group of people I’d been surrounded by most of my life, I was forced to take a closer look. A look at all the things I’d lived my life by, made my decisions based upon and held as a standard by which all things must be measured. All of a sudden, I had questions I couldn’t answer. Stories I’d heard a thousand times before, but wasn’t sure I actually believed. I met people who did, and said, and believed things that went against what I knew to be “right” and yet they seemed perfectly fine. At least they weren’t being struck down by lighting or anything. All of a sudden, I had a really tough time reconciling the kind of things that happen in this world with the kind of creator I’d been taught about. Honestly, I still do.

But through a great deal of contemplation, prayer, reflection and self-analysis, the grand conclusion I’ve arrived at is that for me, there are a few core beliefs that I choose to build my life upon; “deal-breakers,” if you will. These “deal-breakers” consist of a few truths I choose to put my absolute faith in, hold fast to and feel sure of; as sure as we can be in this life. And everything else, well, while everything else still matters and I’ll probably continue to wrestle with a lot of those questions for the rest of my life, at the end of the day, everything else can wait. It’ll be there.

So many questions remain unanswered. Perhaps we are poorer for having lost a possible explanation or richer for having gained a mystery. But aren’t both possibilities equally intriguing?

-Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees

Usually, “everything else” is the thousand-and-one questions I still have. Maybe everything else is the fact that I feel bashful when asked about my religion. Or the fact that I look around at other people in this world who claim to live by the same beliefs and feel sick to my stomach. Ashamed because of the many wrongs done in it’s name. Perhaps it’s the fact that I feel burnt out on the church as an institution, or the reason why I’m struggling so hard with becoming a member of any one congregation. I’m not always sure what all “everything else” entails, but now and again, I lose sight of my deal-breaker mentality and all of these things plague my thoughts and weigh on my mind. I wrestle, I wonder and I get frustrated.

But time after time, I go back to my deal breakers and hold them tight. Believing the promise that there is grace to cover my questions and doubts, and doing my very best every day to be open to Truth. Perhaps some might say I am poorer in my faith for having lost the possible explanations to these questions and quandaries, but personally, I feel richer for having gained the mysteries. In giving up the need to have all my questions answered or contradictions cleared up, I opened up a whole wide world of intriguing possibilities and a freedom in my faith that I’d never felt before.


  1. Ok, I swear, sometimes it’s like you are reading my mind! We are riding the same wave length, lady.

    Mike and I literally just had this conversation. When we met and started dating, both of us were practicing Christians, both raised in the Swedish Covenant Church, which is a super tiny sect and it was a little bizarre that we both grown up in that church because before meeting Mike I had never met anyone outside of MY church who went that kind of church…but I digress…Anyway, over the years our views and beliefs have relaxed. Broadened. Faith/religion is not a daily part of our lives anymore. We don’t attend church because there isn’t one we feel at home in where we live. And frankly, we both feel pretty alienated from the general “Christian” population in this country because so many of them seem to be bat-shit-crazy. It’s hard to reconcile what we know to be True with what we see members of our own religion doing and saying out there in the world. Ugly stuff, man. It makes us feel like, “ARE we Christians??” So, mostly we kind of avoid the topic. But recently, after going a couple years without checking in with each other about it, we finally had the conversation: “What DO we believe, anyway?” and “What are the non-negotiables of our beliefs?” and “What are the non-negotiable of Christianity?” Turns out, the non-negotiable of Christianity don’t perfectly align with some of Mike’s and my firmly held beliefs. A top example is that we believe that the Spirit exists in all things…you, me, nature. It connects us. Whereas Christianity teaches that things are just things, and God was the creator of those things, but is a separate entity.
    Anyway, trying not to write a novel here, but we are grappling with this stuff too right now too so I was really intrigued by your thoughts in this post…once again, you’re a great writer and I really enjoy reading!

    • Tonia,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. And for sharing your experiences. It’s a crazy journey, but so nice to know others are on the same one. :) Best of luck to you as you and your husband continue to sort things out. And as always, thanks for reading!