Fruit of the Earth

As I wrote on Saturday, every morning after breakfast at the retreat house, I take a bike ride. Nothing long or strenuous, maybe 20-25 minutes or so.

I discovered not far from the retreat house grounds a large field that is a community planting ground. I have no idea into how many plots the field is divided; the first day I saw it there were 8-10 cars parked at different parts of the field and scattered groups of people weeding, watering (from containers they have carried in) and otherwise working the land. They covered only a fraction of the available land. Every day since, I’ve ridden past the field, watching the people as I go by.

There is something compelling to me about seeing people work the land every morning. What I hear in my mind as I ride by are the words we hear prayed by the celebrant in every Mass: “Blessed are you Lord God of all creation, for it is through your goodness that we have this bread to offer, fruit of the earth, work of human hands.”

There is a holiness, a sacredness of the land that God has given us that I think is easy to lose touch with when people buy all of their food from the grocery store (especially food that has been processed). This is not just about the evils of our industrial agriculture system (about which I am known to talk about now and then), which is bad enough in its own right, but about a lack of contact with the source of our nourishment.

Now we are not all going to grow all of our own food, but I do think there is something good about anything that gets us closer to the source of what we eat. It might be a CSA farm that delivers only what is grown locally in that season increasing our cognizance of where our food comes from. It might be maintaining a small vegetable or herb garden, even if it is only a small supplement to one’s total diet. Something, anything, to help us remember that what we eat is the “fruit of the earth” that we have through not only the “work of human hands” but through God’s goodness.