look above you
softly enfolding you,
permission to be
hidden from view.
we all need
quiet patterning -
or shelter from the heat
or rain forthcoming
or warning earth
sticks and stones
water from the sea
and air, sighs,
maybe, a kind of
a shroud for
doubts and longings,
like a cloud
blotted out and
scattered in the wind.
"His eyes can read the animal atmosphere;
And see through their silence to sense their minds.
His skilled hands can guide calves and lambs to birth.
Out among his animals, in rain, cold and snow,
Talking to them in affectionate callings,
Something in him turned to their rhythm.
In these times when geography becomes virtual
And developers urbanise the earth
May the farmer continue to hold true ground,
Keeping the intimate knowing of the clay alive,
Nourishing us with the fruits of the earth,
Serving as custodian of that precious threshold where
The rhythm of nature with its serene pulse
And sublime patience restores our minds."
From John O'Donohue's blessing "For the farmer"
We've been farming for seven years this month. Alex and I have known each other longer in the world of dirt, chickens, bees, cows, eggs, poo, grasses, farmers markets and small children longer than anything else. We wear the lines and strain of seven years fumbling, experimenting, learning how to grow food: care for creature, root and worm.
Seven years studded with wonder and provision, fatigue and injury. Seven years of benefiting from the wisdom - the loving - of others: local farmers young and old, educators, writers, activists, friends, family, customers, neighbours, strangers.
Overwhelmed for seven years with the state of our world; our earth; our tables, our hearts. Remembering good things are worth fighting for: worth the time and sacrifice; that there's more than just ourselves; that we must remain curious; that we are made to know place; we are made for regeneration.
Farming is a profession of hope. But then, isn't all seed planting? Growing a garden, yes, but also teaching, learning, making with your hands, parenting, healing, understanding differences, finding common ground, forgiving, beginning again.
Springtime is springing
All around us
hanging our winter bones
to dry in the sunshine
and ripple in the breeze
planting out, sowing,
pen to paper planning,
ideas brimming -
no longer dormant -
baring our toes, elbows,
our white legs -
buds bones birds breath
all around us
Oh God, You are mightier, kinder
and more merciful than we can ever imagine.
That I cannot fathom it all
is a beautiful mystery to me.
I praise you with my whole being
from my top hairs to my toe tips:
every thought, feeling, fear,
hidden hurt and forgotten dream,
Lately I've been restless, struggling to sleep:
I lie awake in bed and wonder where you are
when so many cry out for help -
when so many suffer illnesses and injustices
that have no easy cure,
when your earth is dying,
dug up, burnt, polluted, ignored.
Worst of all, I think about
those who use your name
to cheat, to judge, to profit
to parade banners
of "us against them"
do they see the trenches they have fallen into?
do they feel the hard creases forming in their hearts?
do I feel them forming in my own?
love, you said, love them -
love each other,
love yourself -
love is enough, love is the reason.
Yes, I am heavy with your absence,
but at other times
I am overwhelmed with your presence:
You in the daffodil
every yellow cup a beacon of hope;
You in the fairy wren
greeting the day before it's fully light;
You in the sodden earth
soaking quietly the root and worm;
You in the wood fire
flames to warm us, consume and renew us;
You in the grey clouds
a safe shroud to sorrow in.
Grant us fresh eyes,
to see you, to see each other
truly, truly, truly.
Help us seek stories over opinions,
curiosity over assumptions,
compassion over side-taking.
May we delight in your world
in new blades of grass
and blossom-scented breeze,
in the exurberance of young children
in the questions of the searching,
in molecular structures and fungal networks,
in perfectly ripe fruit and steaming cups of tea,
in the friendship of a pet, conversation face to face,
in cosmos, a bird in song -
Every heart wears the imprint
of you, of the mystery
of being known, wanted
an ancient map of grace:
of thriving in spite
of the mess.
ABOUT the author
Emily Clare Sims is a farmer and mama to three young boys. Each day she looks for ways to notice beauty, contemplate her faith and savour the seasons...