Having lived in the city all my life, I never knew the attraction that living off the land has for many people.
Until I lived in rural Kentucky.
When I was a younger man, I left city life for an area of central Kentucky with rolling hills and simple farmhouses. I became a member of the St. de Porres Lay Dominican Community. I had been attracted to their pro-life apostolate, and I was fascinated by the idea of a community of families and single people living together. This of course was long before I got involved with social media and the internet. It didn’t exist back then.
In the evening, I drew in the aroma of wood-burning fireplaces, enjoyed looking at the cows and pigs, and walked under a myriad of stars while walking between the main house, the chapel, the and the men’s house. During the days I worked in the print shop, which supported the community. There, members of a family who lived outside of the community worked as machine operators in various capacities. These workers were not community members, but people with a farming background who needed extra income.
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Hold dear the farm
If I recall correctly, there were 12 children in their family, and they held dear the family farm that they still owned. They raised “bacca,” and apparently didn’t pay heed to any ill effects of smoking. This was in an economy in which family farms were no longer viable. The rural people in the area nowadays have one or two members who take jobs elsewhere, such as at the Ford plant up the road. For this family, the farm was a force that held them together.
Farming is honorable work, but it is humbling. First of all, you are very much dependent on the weather. If you get too much rain, or not enough, you could lose a lot of income. And then many times you can sell to only one buyer, and at one price. You don’t have the flexibility of other businesses, where you can chose other buyers, and at higher prices.
Maybe this is why God chose to have his Divine Son born in a rural area, where the forces of nature and social pressures keep people “little.” This littleness tends to make us more aware of our dependence on God’s providence.
May all of us be humble enough to accept the graces that He has to offer us during this Christmas season!