The Farm (28)

Toward the end of my doctoral work I began to look for a way to implement what I had developed.  When Christ proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount that his followers consider the lillies of the field, he was using the natural world to highlight an already existing caring connection between their lives in the outdoors and the work of God.

Broadly speaking there are six areas in which people realize meaning through our relationships: care for ourselves, care for those with whom we are immediately related, care for those with whom we are less intimate, care for the natural world, care for human-made ‘tools’, and care for ideas.  My doctoral world highlighted and developed these in relationship to our spiritual development.  However, over time I had come to realize that the prevalent models of church would never provide any real opportunity to fully live these out.  Churches existed as a place for people to care for themselves and to develop ideas that protected this level of care, and basically ignored the rest.  Our own background in development work, serving the poor, our deep sense of connectedness to the natural world, and the joy we found in physical work, all pointed beyond traditionally enculturated forms of ministry and were bound to be a side-show at best if I continued as church clergy.

Eventually we found support for our longings.  And so immediately upon finishing my doctoral work I regrettably resigned my position as clergy in the church that I had experienced great love, we sold everything we had, packed an entire family’s belongings into two pickup trucks, and returned to where we now live.  We had no jobs, no place to live, no prospects for making a living, and no savings.  What we did have was a very clear understanding of how we and others made sense of the world, and especially in how this related to our own and other’s spirituality.

Pacing The Cage – Bruce Cockburn

Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it’s pointing toward

Sometimes you feel like you live too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself
Pacing the cage

I’ve proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip’s worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in
Hours chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage

I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing

It’s as if the thing were written
In the constitution of the age
Sooner or later you’ll wind up
Pacing the cage

Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can’t see what’s round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend
Today these eyes scan bleached-out land
For the coming of the outbound stage
Pacing the cage
Pacing the cage