No amount of hatred can ever produce the love of God.
– Ade Bethune
The dog went out, relieved himself, and came back…very quickly. I stood in the open doorway to watch and make sure he was okay. Billows of air from the house formed plumes of rising steam in the cold air as it poured out into the darkness, even though the humidity inside was less than 10%. Dry. I slipped on insulated coveralls and walked uphill to a pile of logs delivered ten years ago and beat one loose and then pulled it out and hauled it down to our house on my shoulder, eight inches across, eight feet long, and seventy pounds.
One horse can do the job of ten men. One small tractor can do the work of thirty horses. One barrel of crude oil holds the same amount of energy that one man will exert doing physical labour forty hours a week over a period of four and a half years. Until 1900 roughly 80% of society’s activities were spent on producing energy in one form or another. I thought on these figures under my load.
I need to build a cordwood cradle so that I can use a bow saw to buck up some cordwood. We heat with electricity but supplement with wood because our heated concrete system does not respond to rapid fluctuations in temperature. It was cool inside this morning. For now I used a chainsaw to quickly cut this log into fourteen inch sections. I split it by hand. Picking up the halves they were so cold that they immediately burned my hands. I carried them inside and added them to the small fire I had already started. They quickly flared up and removed the nip from the air.
Last night before bed I had cleared an area of floor – cement – and scrubbed it on my hands and knees. Now I painted the edges and then used a small foam roller to paint the rest. Dark green with a hint of olive tree paleness. It’s a rich colour. And it dries quickly enough to walk on within a half hour with stocking feet. I will leave it for twenty-four hours before putting anything back on it.
It is now 4:30 a.m.. And I love this life.
You cannot just come and go when it involves a farm. It is not possible to shutter the windows and lock the doors and go off somewhere no matter how important that may be. Here in the north especially things can go dramatically wrong even more quickly than other places. Minus twenty or more takes a terrific toll on people and animals and stuff in general, each of which can break in their own ways and with great severity. My wife is absent for a few days because of work. If I injured myself outside in these temperatures it could be life threatening. I have made peace with that, just like having worked in a war zone forty years ago. It is just a part of real life. Many around the world are not immune from these perils, what makes me believe that I should be any different?
And then I sat down to watch the paint dry and to read:
The real purpose of prayer is the deepening of personal realization in love, the awareness of God. The real purpose of meditation is the exploration and discovery of new dimensions in freedom…of our life in Christ. What is the relation of this to action? Simply this. Those who attempt to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening their own self-understanding, freedom, integrity and capacity to love, will not have anything to give others. They will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of their own obsessions, their aggressiveness, their ego-centred ambitions, their delusions about ends and means, their doctrinaire prejudices and ideas. There is nothing more tragic in the modern world than the misuse of power and action to which people are driven by their own misunderstandings and misapprehensions.
– Thomas Merton, Contemplation In A World Of Action [ed.]
I am reminded today that by the beginning of the first winter on the first Catholic Worker farm everyone except for one couple had fled back to the city.
Being here, alone, is a blind act. Something beyond my imagining or understanding. I have given up wondering what it might be about, if anything at all. And accept that even now I am a part of something that I will likely never ever know.
And this house bangs loudly as the severe cold causes wood in the walls to contract, and to shift, and perhaps to even split ever so slightly.
Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for to them belongs the kingdom of God.
– Matthew 19:14
I am here.