Someone recently asked me if I were a hyphenated man…a writer – farmer? It was a good question…and since harvest season always turns my mind toward inventory-ing (…and it did freeze last night (so we hauled in our tomatoes and corn)), so this morning I took stock; here’s my reply…
I am a child who experiences primal ecstasy outdoors. I am an adolescent who experiences the singular overwhelming love of God, although not in any fundamentalist sense. I am an adolescent awake to the need to work on skills that allow me to live simply in a direct outdoor economy. I am a young man who is literally dropped to his knees by the words of Merton (New Seeds first paragraph chapter 3) in the university library while studying agriculture…the first actual articulation by anyone of my own already-prolonged experience…and sent on a journey to unlock this puzzle of contemplation. I am a young man who lives with the poorest people in SE Asia and was called their brother, assisting them to grow food. I am a young man who enters politics through the gate of a refugee camp…assisting a doctor who treats people who experience the greatest bombing campaign in the history of the world…a bombing run ever 7 minutes for 9 years…shrapnel, amputation, napalm, phosphorous burns, blindness, deafness, PTSD. I am a twenty’s man who turns to the middle class church for answers, but to no avail. I am a seminarian and a clergy who spends his time with the poor and dispossessed and abused and learns to say the words ‘what can I do?’, and who follows up on them at his own cost because his employers won’t help. I am a doctoral student who is trained in clinical therapy because psychology determines our theology and not the other way around. I am a late middle-aged man who resigns his ordination because it is impotent to bring about the love that the world needs…in particular the needs of the poor and shamed and taken-advantaged-of. I am a farmer who grows stuff to give away…which is the right of everyone who is born…to eat and be housed and be clothed and be loved. I am an orchardman who plants 3000 haskap plants because it is also an artistic endeavour to do so…it’s beautiful and brings joy to look at and walk through and graze on…and it’s for anyone to feast upon in every sense of the word. I am anti-anti-social and live in a quiet place full of compassion and connections…human and non-human like.
Dorothy Day and Merton. I have deep affection for both. Merton at the beginning of my journey and Day here at the end.
…I think that that’s a fair statement.