burn to shine

Because truly the world is burning right now, and we are all standing in the fire. I choose now to soften all the way, to bare myself, open wide, and write it all down to make sure we know it is okay. That we are okay. More than okay, we are divine. We will always rise from the ashes.

 may day, new beginnings

It is nearly summer solstice. We, our family, here on this farm, are traveling through this season without farming for an income any longer. We are traveling around the circle of the seasons and so much is the same while so much is different.The intense push, hard in all the ways, that last season gave us to finally let that business go, that one-time dream, one-time call, has settled. The egos have survived, even when they thought they might not. Letting go has usually been something I feel I do so gracefully. But this was hard. Really hard.

Mostly because we always think we have to be something. We were farmers. We were farmers for our community. It was a big part of the way we moved inside our space. It had been our life for eight years. Our plan for more like thirteen years. And I like change. I embrace change. I daydream about change. But this threw me to the wolves. I couldn’t see clearly. I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure after so long holding sure like a hostage in my tightening chest and it was frightening. I somehow thought our world was going to crumble. That things were breaking.

And yet, that isn’t all the way true. What I really knew, so very deeply, was that our world was going to expand. That breaking it was necessary to enlarge it. That we needed so desperately to move on. And, goodness, the world has grown and we keep growing and our farm is still here and we are still here. Growing food for our family, spreading compost out all over our beaten hearts and healing some of the parts of life that had, like much of our farm, been neglected and overgrown.

The story is so cliche it kills me.

Farming.

It is such good honest work. It means something know matter what. And it is also so fucking hard. The money is too thin and too bare even though you are putting your heart and soul into that dirt. The awareness of the true cost, the labor, that all food is born of, is mostly lost to really all of us, even my silly farm kids living this life. There is so much to write about this. How to make the small-scale sustainable farm sustainable, for the farmers? Nourishing and not depleting, for the farmers? So many pieces still to puzzle out in this movement. I have essays going and so much to say and so much I still want to discover about something I truly believed in and hate feeling jaded about.

But here we are in June. And after all that revolutioning, inside and out, we are basking for now in the glory. The glory of a new path. Writing about farming and gardening for my family, I can still do this. I can tell the stories that are mine to tell in the hopes that we all keep moving forward. Not just the small farm and farmer, but us, the people, connected here on earth through the clay that clings to our skin and through time and space by the crying or bubbling of the stars inside us. The threads woven by words told true and with an open heart have a power of their own. They create a net that can hold us all on this journey into a new world.

Because truly the world is burning right now, and we are all standing in the fire. I choose now to soften all the way, to bare myself, open wide, and write it all down to make sure we know it will be okay. It can be uncomfortable. It should be uncomfortable. But it can be okay. We are okay. More than okay, we are divine. We will always rise from the ashes.

Burned. Grown back. It happens, and we can fight it or find our selves more truly and lovingly inside the flames.

Here’s to new beginnings.

Let’s burn to shine.

Together.

may day,new beginnings

cucumber dreams

cucumber vines, beauty in nature, love, farmingThey say time flies when you are having fun, but really, after a certain point in your life, time flies no matter if you are having fun or not. I haven’t been able to get a blog post in since the first morning yawn of April. That is a long time ago. But no, really, it was just a blink of the eye.

I had planned on keeping everything under control this farm season, my house, my writing schedule, my mama-hood-y goodness. I would still make time for us to see friends. I wouldn’t have a mountain of crazy to uncover come late autumn, I wouldn’t disappear. I wanted to keep summer from barreling over us faster than we could keep the purposeful and intentioned steps of our feet on the ground. But summer. Farming. Maybe it isn’t really possible.

I am trying to be gentle on myself. I have these four children, and we are all in this together, and no matter how much of a super-human I feel like I am supposed to be, I am not. I am super, but I am also human. I feel compelled to do all these things, but I don’t see for a minute how I can do them all well. As the children get older, they find that just being on the farm and snacking on fresh food and having life be consumed by this one thing that is such a good, good thing, such a necessity in times gone, isn’t as enough as it once was. And I think–rather, I know–that I need a few more hands in the field and in the home and that my two are not as enough as they once seemed, either. And another summer is going to be gone before I know it. Another year. I don’t like the feeling of life controlling me, but perhaps all along I was wrong to think that I could control it. I feel a bit like a rock, stuck, wondering if there is really any purpose to this madness. I wonder, too much, perhaps, about everything.

So, I try not to. Instead, I get up, I walk the fields, my fields. The plants, my loves. I marvel at the coming abundance. I sweat, I ache, I let my body do what it was made to do. Move and work, provide. I think, on the summer solstice, of winter. It isn’t that far away. I let go a little, and let those vegetables wait while I find my breath and stay present with the kids, my dear sweet children. I want to fix what I perceive to be broken, but there isn’t a fix, not at this moment, not now, midsummer. So, I surrender as best I can, not knowing what to do, but doing the best I can for now.

I eagerly await the first cucumber. I will let it be divine.

It will be, divine.

about (to bloom) the movement of grace

spring, blossoms, blooming, spring, blossoms, bloomingI took these pictures a few days ago. Already, these pink balls that dotted the limbs of this ornamental plum tree have opened, transforming in just a few days this image that caught me, the about-ness of it all so perfect and true.

Last week, we started back up with our farm harvests, started back at our farmer’s market. I waited until the very last minute to wrap my head around the changing schedule, our winter way so nice and restorative this year, but once I turned on the music in the wash station, cleaned and organized everything out there, started washing and weighing and gathering the produce together for our farm members and market customers, it all felt right. Saturday morning at the market, with all the fine people to see, the camaraderie, the community, and us a part of it, it fit back on like a glove.

spring, farming, community, farmer's market, graceprovidence, grace, loveSome friends and I have been having an ongoing discussion about the evolution of our understandings of the world and our spiritual place in it. About how learning to let go of the idea of keeping it all together ourselves, of the image of a perfect us or a perfect life, of the notion that we are in full control of this ship, how in this process of letting go and in finding the moment, we are finding more peace, more happiness, more power to implement real change, real transformations, and more love for life as it is, messy and beautiful and sad and wonderful all at the same time. Contrary to logic, somehow giving over power has this way of creating something really powerful.

One friend likened this to the idea of Grace, and I remembered back to when I was studying philosophy and literature in my college days. I read a lot of Christian writers, and I had an affinity for the beautiful way G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis understood their faith, so different from how I perceived it as a child, deathly afraid of the dark, already burning in the fire that is spiritual fear. That, for me, was no way to connect to the Eternal, so although I didn’t return to church, I did begin to appreciate the concept of Grace. I did begin to see that it was working in my life, that it always had been. Now, I am more apt to connect with this feeling during meditation, when always, the first sensation I notice is overwhelming gratitude, for all the things in my life, not just the good. Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve known keenly it was where I was supposed to be. If I paid attention. I always saw signs telling me that I was on the right path, always books came to me that I needed, always lessons that I needed when I might have lost track of my way, when I might have lost sight of the why of it all.

Always, moments of surety.

Like yes, on Saturday, when we returned to market farming for another season. Like yes, today, and every day, that I get on here to type.

Like a few days ago, on just another Sunday afternoon, while my children took the raft out into the flooded field and splashed in the mud and enjoyed their childhood and my husband wrapped me in his arms as said, “I love my life with you.”

Yes.

I couldn’t see it when I was growing up, my father was a No kind of person, but still this morning I listen to the music he handed down to me and because I am a Yes kind of person, I cry and wish for this perfectly imperfect man to still be walking the earth so I could share a cup of coffee with him and talk, like we always did, about how to be good and make the world right for everyone.

Sometimes I wonder why I should be so blessed, why I should feel that my life has meaning. The short answer is that I shouldn’t. None of us and all of us deserve everything and nothing at all. I haven’t had it easy, by any means, but I do have it great right now. And that is enough. Tomorrow is another day, and I can’t predict what is to come. I can’t make the good times stay. And that is okay, too.

The truth is, I have no answers, and I realize that I never have, only glimpses and movement, ideas that fit as my life continues on through its days. Perhaps the Truth, which I have always sought, isn’t something to be found. Maybe there are no answers to any of these larger than life questions, but I can’t stop asking them, and maybe that is enough for me to always find myself right where I am supposed to be, in both hard or soft times.

Right now, I find myself like the balls on this tree, ready to bloom into spring, then summer. The hard working, fast moving season on the farm. My body rejoices to be under the sun, in the dirt, eating fresh food. There are times in our lives that we can’t appreciate until we are well through them, the layers of meaning fully integrated, but this season isn’t like that at all, it is all feel-it-as-it-happens. Being right here, right now, that is my focus. I am sure I will have things to look back on that mean more to me in the future than they do now, but I am also trying my hardest to make all the meaning in the moment, too. And this one thing I do know to be true, I love my life, too. Graciously. That is one thing I can and will always try to do. Perhaps that is the thing that has made all the difference.

spring, farming, community, grace, blooming

for the year of the horse (a poem)

chinese new year, oal oak tree, setting intentions, new moon, poetryOn This Chinese New Year’s Eve

I cut my hair.

I wanted to enter
the wooden horse of this new year
re-framed, re-styled, ready for anything.

Because this year, I want, fiercely, many things.

Like your legs intertwined with mine
in the motion of waves
all the time
as if there is no time.

And the kind of success
measured in limitlessness.

I will hang the red banner.
Spill the blood of so many oranges
or lap the juices with my tongue, at least,
let it dribble down my chin in fervent prayer.

Because this year, I want to enter like a Trojan horse.

For better or worse,
things must happen
and we must make them.

this sunrise is the only sunrise

sunrise, nature, life, gratitude, loveHappy New Year!

January is here in all its quiet and subdued glory.  After all the hoopla of the holidays, I always think it feels just right to get back to the routines, to embrace fully the structure of this first, uneventful month of the year. In our home, on this farm, this month is, like it is for so many people, completely under control.  We have lots of goals and lots of plans, and for now, we have the time, space, and energy to keep to them, the path clearly laid out.  This is a beautiful thing.

The tricky part is–and we all know this well–not all of this is likely to hold a whole year through.  Life will have its way, too.  There will be detours unforeseen.  For us, no matter the plan, there is that moment every farming season when the only control possible is to let go of control, to simply let the water pull us under, knowing that the only way to make it out alive is not to hold our breath or struggle against things, but to instead just become the fish. To let ourselves be fully immersed.  We will be there again, I know, busier than busy, lifting so much life in our arms from this ever abundant earth.  That is part of our goal, after all, even if that itself becomes its own force to be reckoned with, a force that our neat and tidy days of January can scarcely hope to keep shackled to the shape we’ve drawn for it here in this stillness.

Right now, we make lists, order seeds, plan and schedule, and it soothes our human instinct to have order, to be in control, just as much as the times of feeling out of control beautifully humble us each year when we find ourselves at the mercy–in ways both wonderful and challenging–of the natural world.

mt hood, farmscape, sunrise, beauty, life, love, gratitude, natureRight now, waking in the dark, writing every day, having the time already for a break at sunrise to watch the red sky awaken the world around me–believe me, there is a part of me that wants to stay right here.  This feels perfect.

But this isn’t how life works, and why should it?

Life is a force to be reckoned with.  All we have is this moment.  The real resolutions, each year, the ones that matter to us most, the ones we hope to keep true at their core and really want to bring to light can’t be heavy with their own stomachfuls of stone.  Sometimes, what may masquerader as strength in January can end up being a mere veneer, hiding underneath it a brittle underbelly that just can’t weather the storm.

After thirty-seven years and so much paying attention, this is one of the good lessons I know I’ve learned, but the kind that I need to always remind myself of, especially now, in sweet January.

Don’t forget to tie up those hopes and dreams and innumerable plans with the highest quality rubber bands you can buy. 

The kind of strength this ship needs is the kind found in elasticity, not rigidity.

Wrap me around this life, a million times over in any sort of direction, and I swear I won’t break.  And when I’m unwound, I’m still the same still thing I was, not bent at all.  The shape remains.

I swear this to myself, right now, in this peaceful, perfect moment, this one sunrise.  And, I’ll try, at least, to say it with each other predictable morning sunrise I get to see.

rilke, sunrise, nature, beauty, gratitude, flexibility“If to enjoy even an enjoyable present we must have the assurance of a happy future, we are “crying for the moon.” We have no such assurance. The best predictions are still matters of probability rather than certainty, and to the best of our knowledge every one of us is going to suffer and die. If, then, we cannot live happily without an assured future, we are certainly not adapted to living in a finite world where, despite the best plans, accidents will happen, and where death comes at the end.”

Alan Watts.