The days are lengthening, and though it is still winter the body fills with the anticipation of spring. Growth has returned after the long darkness as the Persephone period recedes behind us. Each year the changing of the seasons still comes as something of a surprise, the returning of an old friend come to stay awhile.
The vibrancy of spring, verdant summer, abundant fall and comfortable winter can just as easy be the hungry spring, overheated summer, smoky fall and frigid winter. How do we perceive the events around us? How do we interpret the tasks which make up the days of our lives?
Do I “get to” do the animal chores this morning or do I “have to?” The irony is that either or both can be true, though the activity remains unchanged. So quoth Milton: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven.” It’s a lesson that’s been spoken in so many ways by so many people, yet can remain elusive.
Sometimes we need reminding, and that reminder can come in many different ways. Perhaps it’s the hilarity of young people, or the beauty of the sunrise. Perhaps it’s the steam rising off the coffee mug, or the sound of pigs crunching walnut shells. We do well to tend the sources of joy in our lives, to see them flourish and thrive.
We gather together for family meals to share in nourishment and enjoyment of each other. Reflection and discussion over food is part of the glue that holds humans together in relationship. We speak about the food, its preparation and sourcing. There is an acknowledgement of the nourishment in a simple gratitude; no formal grace, yet a recognition of the effort and honor of bringing food to table.
Service to sustenance is one of the principles of life on earth, the guiding characteristic of being. We each operate within the scope of this relationship, both as beneficiaries of the service of others and in service unto others. It is when we recognize the sacredness of this service that “I have to” transforms into “I get to”.
Perspective can shift in such simple ways yet have such profound impact on our actions. When we focus on service, washing the dishes is an act woven into the tapestry of love that governs our lives. We care for ourselves and for others, and when we are in conscious recognition of the honor of this care, our life processes evolve.
It’s so easy to get stuck in a negative thought loop, losing sight of the opportunity of the moment in the grumbling of the ego. I struggle to stay present, focused on the task at hand in appreciation of the opportunity to serve. Farming and life are so much about mental attitude, and either can be a simple joy or a repetition of grudging drudgery.
Harvest and processing (and many tasks on the farm) can be tedious and numbing, offering up a blank slate for tallying either joys or grumbles. When I think about who I am harvesting the food for, it tallies up joy on the Great Chalkboard of Life. When I put down compost or sow seeds, I try to think about the cycles of relationship that I set in motion and maintain over time.
This constancy of cyclical motion is bedrock to existence, some things internal and some external. We move as though with the tides, participating in a rhythm that can range from unconscious to deep understanding. When we perceive the cadence and the beat, we start to be able to engage the rhythm, adding to the music of life. The natural enthusiasm that comes from being On Beat is a profound feeling that shines bright.
We all know how it feels to be around people who see us, who support us and who we support, existing in mutualism. We know the feeling of joy, be it from family, friends, neighbors, community; the essence of what it means to be human. We each create a ripple effect on the pond of life, and that responsibility is deep and powerful. The mundane processes of life have a habit of blurring the focus away from the joy of service to each other, the maintenance of the ripple effect. May each day bring knowledge of this joy, much love and great success to you on your journey!
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