Back to the Land, Back to God

By Catholic Rural Life on July 5, 2016

Ethical Food and Agriculture

Editor’s Note:  This is the second installment in our “Storytellers” series, where readers submit their stories about faith and the countryside.  This week’s offering comes from Sarah Antonio, whose family of eight moved to a homestead in west Indiana.  You can read more of Sarah’s writing on her blog, Wild Things Farm.  If you have a story you’d like to submit for “Storytellers”, please contact Morgan Smith at Morgan@CatholicRuralLife.org.

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Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 3.01.08 PMThere is a disconnect today between eaters and food sources.  I think this is becoming a fundamental problem with society.  When we lose sight of our food sources, of what else do we lose sight?  Because, ultimately, what (or Who) is the source of the food which sustains us?

We had a young visitor to our homestead one day and, on seeing our chickens, she asked “Do they lay eggs?  Can you eat them?!?”  Her questions aren’t the exception.  Most people today give little to no thought to the source of the food they eat.  Here in the United States, food is, for the most part, plentiful and easily accessible.

When we become so far removed from the source of our food supply, we cease thinking about the steps that brought that food to our table.  We eat for nothing more than the base instinct of survival.  When we turn back to the land, be it through homesteading, supporting the local farmers market, or growing a small backyard garden, we reconnect to the Source of our food.  We eat for community, pleasure, and personal connection.

When we raise just the smallest bit of our own food, even a pot of tomatoes on the back porch, or converse with our farmer at Saturday’s market, we remember all that goes into the process of putting food on the table.  We also are reminded of Who is in charge of the success of that tomato plant or the laying of the eggs that fill your carton.  The farmer works hard to bring you healthy food, but at the end of the day, Mother Nature is truly calling the shots.  It doesn’t matter how well I tend my flock, when God makes the days short and dark, there’s nothing I can do to make those ladies lay!

This brings me to contemplate; is our disconnect from the land causing a disconnect from God?  When we, as a society, lose sight of the source from which our food comes, we lose sight of He who gave it to us.   Perhaps the greatest gift of the current “back to the land” movement that we are seeing will be a turning back to God.

A person working his own piece of land relies on the whims of Mother Nature.  He watches the temperature shift in early spring, signaling him to tap the maple trees, he watches the flowers open and knows that the honey will soon be flowing in the hive, he sees the night time lows consistently staying above freezing, letting him know it’s time to plant.  All of these things are out of his control.  It is in working with Mother Nature that homesteader will find success.  In turning back to the land, we really do turn back to God.  Perhaps some won’t be as distinctly aware of this as others, but it is inevitable.  We can’t work this land without working with He who made it.

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