Grit Blogs > Terra Dei Farm - A Life of Stewardship

How To Build A Heart

Alexandra head shotI vividly remember kneeling in church the day before Easter, eight years ago, in a church in my husband's small home town. I was distracted, gazing at the engagement ring that had been placed on my finger only a few days before. A simple thin gold band and modestly sized diamond solitaire - humble, though to me it shone with brilliance because it was exactly what I wanted (both literally and figuratively.) 

The vision of that moment took my breath away this year, on Good Friday. In prayer and commemoration of Jesus' sacrifice and death on the cross I found myself sitting in the same church, the same pew, eight years later. I gazed at my hand - the same hand and the same ring, both slowly beginning to show signs of age - intertwined in the hand of my mother-in-law as we wept together over the loss of my father-in-law, her husband.

Antique pictures Wedding Ring 

I'm sure you're wondering what in the world this has to do with rural living - but it does, just wait for it. As I eluded to above, we celebrated Easter this year by going to church in the morning with my husband's family and then spending the rest of the day at the funeral home celebrating the life and mourning the loss of his father. The number of people who gave up time on Easter to come offer their sympathy and condolences during the duration of the visitation was incredible - and the packed church at the funeral the next morning was a testament to a life that touched many.

I wrote previously about my father-in-law's last days; he was diagnosed with his third round of cancer and passed away a shocking four days later. Walking through the process of dying, grieving, funeral and more grieving during the Easter season provided vivid reflections on the meanings of life and death. (Thankfully I have cultivated a dignified demeanor that remains graceful even in extremes of grief and suffering - such as today when I hid in the bathroom and sobbed while I ate an entire chocolate rabbit. Yes, I am a model of nobility.)

Keepin It Reel 

There are mysteries in this thing called life that eclipse the minds of all humanity. However, the mature person is not the one with all of the answers - nobody likes a know-it-all. No, the truly mature and wise person is the one who is avidly asking questions and narrowing in on the right questions to ask.

Expressions such as, "Life goes on" are true, but seem to fall short of the full truth. Life does not seem to be just a passive flat steady passing of time. Not flat at all. It moves in steady waves of highs and lows as it continually flows through the cycle of birth, living and death. It is a force living and breathing, always throbbing yet usually unnoticed like an electronic hum. A rhythm that beats out the pace of life, building at times until it crashes into an overpowering crescendo. 

Photo Albums 

Living the rural life - whether through our farms, communities or simple "container gardens" on our patio - forces us to ride those waves with increased awareness. We are constantly immersed in the life cycle and its rhythm through our crops and livestock, the calendar of our lives set by planting seasons and harvesting - kidding and calving seasons and kill market sale barns. We are forced to ask the questions and strive for answers. And, in a way that may seem brutal to outsiders, rural life pushes us towards the right questions and expands us as humans.

For the human element is what matters. In today's world of technology and distraction, the ups and downs of life are often overlooked and forgotten until one finds themselves slammed in the face by another cresting wave and threatened with drowning. The only sure thing seems to be that the waves keep coming.

The Human Element Support 

Through agriculture, we are intimately tied to it all - life and its waves, and ultimately to humanity. And through that fact we can obtain an increased awareness of the cycles of life happening around us. This allows us to be better stewards of our crops and livestock, yes. But it also enables us to become better friends and human citizens in general.

Life is not the act of living, merely. It is a force that rips out your heart, but does not leave it forsaken. No, it is the same force that builds our hearts. It opens our eyes, ignites compassion, shows us how to care and teaches us how to love. And, for many involved in the rural life, this is exactly why we love what we do.Hands old pictures Generations White Barn Art 

 

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6/15/2012 1:57:28 AM

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john and pixie ruhlmann
5/12/2012 11:46:38 AM

The rural life, particularly the family farm, is a few steps closer to where we all started - the Garden of Eden. Accordingly, life's rhythms, the ebbs and flows, are easier to detect and experience as they are not hidden away or blocked by man's efforts to create a more controlled environment. On the family farm, you are closer to God, and can feel his presence more clearly, and experience the joy of life more dearly.


s.m.r. saia
5/2/2012 10:47:23 AM

This was really beautiful. I'm so sorry for your loss. Your photos are unbelievably deep and poignant.


bobbi clark
4/30/2012 9:15:37 PM

Love it!


nebraska dave
4/29/2012 12:49:19 PM

Alexandra, my condolences to you and your family. The church being filled with friends and family is indeed a great testimony of the greatness of the man. Years will pass again and the sadness of today will turn into the joy of memories of your father-in-law and the great experiences that filled your times with him. Life is truly filled with waves of joy and sadness which makes us who we become. Never lose that sensitivity to surrounding relationships. Have the best day that you can.