It was on the farm — the place where I was born, where I lived out my childhood, where we worked hard and learned to love the land — that I remember those brief episodes of feeling that, as 14th-century writer Julian of Norwich wrote, “all will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.”
One fall day as I sat on the lawn halfway between the house and barn, I felt the knowing, as farmers have always known, that when the grain is in the bin, the corn in the crib, the hay in the mow and the silo filled — then we are ready for winter.
The cows were in the barn and some had already “freshened.” They had birthed their calves. We are ready for the cold winds and snows that blow in from the north over our Minnesota prairie. I thought, “This is the good life. I could stay here.”
This was a small farm, a true family farm in the way it used to be. This was rich soil. I was aware of the smell of the changing season and the movement of time toward my future. I had no sound reason that pointed toward a future in farming except this: the few short years of being there. Of working hard, doing chores, tending the animals that lived with us. Of the fieldwork with horses and tractor, of bringing in the cows from the north pasture, of raising pigs and chickens.
I knew then what it was to be part of family, of neighborhood and of the community of faith. I belonged to that land.
It was at that moment — as it has been many times since — that I knew, however fleetingly, that this was as close to God as I would ever get in this world.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers