Purpose

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 “The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.” 
― Wendell BerryThe Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture-


I have been thinking about my purpose in life a lot lately. Now, maybe the fact that Sidney has had rain or severely dark and cloudy weather 75% of the last 75 days has something to do with my intense introspection. Maybe it is simply my age. The optimist in me hopes I am viewing life from my peak. The pessimist suggests I am already on my way back down the mountain side. Regardless of where the search of my existence stems from I cannot help but find my focus firmly rooted there.

I have responsibilities that I cherish and embrace with love such as being a husband and father. On some level these are very much my purpose. It is only natural to consider the fact that we can apply ourselves to a number of important opportunities. But I am speaking more along the lines of my individual purpose. The journey that I must intrinsically take alone in order to fulfill my very existence.  I do believe purpose can fluctuate over time and that may be part of the confusion I am experiencing. But I also believe that if we examine our history we are able to visually navigate an unfolding passion that has slowly taken course over the term of our life.

Last night while I was in bed I began to think about my journey of working with seed and soil. It is not glamorous work. Truth be told I spend more than my fair share of time around manure and other forms of rot. Though I can see the earth worms and spiders most of what I aim to accomplish in the dirt is invisible to the naked eye and only becomes evident upon the unfolding of leaf and bloom of flower and fruit. 
When their work is done


It is not an agenda that will garner compliments from strangers. Though once in a great while someone will offer a kind word shiny enough for me to pin to my chest so that I can parade my ego around my gardens. In the end though most of my work is solitary and quiet, much like me. When I am working with those I love there is conversation but inevitably talk gives way to the sound of ones own breathe providing a natural rhythm for the work at hand.

It was these lack of accolades that made me realize this is most likely my current purpose. To work odd hours in cold rain, hot sun and sharp winter winds because I do not desire to be any place else. The fact that, for the most part, the work goes unrecognized but still I perform regardless of health or illness spoke volumes to my frail ego. True meaning is magnetic not a vehicle for shallow triumphs. 

Courtesy of Natures paint brush
 Feeding the dirt so that it becomes soil is purpose. A purpose far larger than myself or even this moment of brief existence. Being a steward of the worms and the bees is as close to divinity as I could ask to be. A single seed, whether it is the spiked orb of a chard plant or the painted kidney of a bean seed is not only a handful of art but the past, present and future contained all in one moment.

I am not the first and I am certainly not the last to farm but what makes my purpose unique is that I am a walking history of every inch of my property. A nurse for patches of poor soil. A swift sword for plants eroding due to pest.  A good host for rabbit, fox and wren. There is purpose in that. Some day when my limbs no longer cooperate with my mind I will have to once again reexamine why I exist. But for now my principal wish is to place my hands in the dirt to feed my soul. 

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