Monday, October 12, 2009


last night at the abundant table worship service, each of us present was asked to give our name and our favorite word (or number, for the mathematically minded). i had a very difficult time thinking of a word that i loved, that i used or sought to incorporate into conversation more than any other. i could not come-up with one, and based on that particular classification, my mind still draws a blank. however, i do think that there are words that speak to important themes in our lives, that illuminate inner struggles, longings, or hopes. one such word in my life at the moment is "sustenance," and i have lately been thinking about it in every sense of the word.
one of the definitions of sustenance is "the maintaining of someone or something in life or existence," which is what we're all about on the farm, on any farm. in our case, we are attempting to grow healthy, organic food that will hopefully aid in sustaining the physical wellness of our csa subscribers; those who buy our produce from the farm stand or at farmers market; paul, julie, emily, molly, and meghan; and the five of us. we're also attempting to aid in the physical sustenance of our plants, many of which are constantly suffering near-death experiences due to disease, virus, mildew, or insect attack. and within the house, we are sustaining each other relationally, and endeavoring to do so spiritually as well. clearly, there is quite a lot to wholistic sustenance in our lives.
physically, i have been well-sustained since the moment i arrived at the farmhouse. there is a surplus of healthy food, exercise, and clean air to keep my body in tip-top shape. i doubt that my body has ever been healthier or more "full of life." in my relationships, i am becoming more sustained daily as i become better acquainted with my sisterfriends, as i (slowly) make new friends in the community, and as i intentionally connect with my family and friends outside of ventura county. i am even making in-roads with myself (one of the relationships that i need to work on the most, but in the past have spent time on least). in these areas, i have felt truly sustained. that being said, lately i have not felt sustained spiritually. even in this community where we are trying to stay focused on god's presence in this work, i am finding it difficult to see god here. as the list of responsibilities increase, as task lists that began as a few lines now take-up pages and pages, as my calendar fills-up with farm and work related activities until christmas, i find myself forgetting to make a time and place to center on god, to pray, to witness god revealing godself in all of these activities that make-up the day to day. 
this weekend, i had two conversations that motivated me to re-prioritize my time, to look at my calendar, my schedule, and to center it not on tasks, but on sustenance, of which spirituality is so much a part. this project will come to an end if any one of us is not fully sustained. it was recommended that i walk through the farm not with a critical eye, not looking to see what needs to be done in order to repair this or that, how many more weeds need to be pulled, what new bugs have moved into the neighborhood, but rather with an eye of gratitude and wonder at what god has done.
walking. praying. hoping. listening. thanking. these are the things that so easily get lost when we allow work, even if it is such good work, to rule our lives. good work, i think, can be especially difficult because it never feels like a bad idea to be working on things that we care about. yet burnout can come, as it so often does, in such work because we cease to make time to be wholistically sustained. my hope, this week (and in the weeks and months to come), is to remember this deep need for spiritual sustenance and connection, and to not let the other aspects of sustenance come before time with and attention to god. god is the reason, and when we lose sight of the reason, the work becomes ultimately meaningless. i have never doubted god's presence in this project. it would be a shame to become so busy and distracted that i miss the experience of it.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your deep honesty, Casey. I also do not want this project to be about taking the same old busy, anxious, frenetic pace of our culture and applying it to something "meaningful" in the false hope that the result will be sustaining in any enduring way. The process and the product have to be sustainable. I see you as foraging for nourishment on behalf of a lot of us. When you find it, and I trust you will, please put down markers for us.