Prayers of Hope

Elizabeth - Orrtanna, Pennsylvania
Entered on July 6, 2011
Themes: change, community
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I crave rhythm and movement the way my body craves good food. To dig for potatoes and curl my toes into the dirt, to shape dough into loaves and pound tomato stakes into the ground. This is work that speaks to all that I value and hold sacred; this is work that brings us together as human beings, teaching us to celebrate our humanity by committing ourselves to each other, to our communities, and to the land that sustains us.

The people I meet often ask why I have chosen to grow food for a living. As the many reasons spin through my mind, I try to come up with something quick, something coherent, something that will convey the life-giving qualities of this work, and the value in remembering where the source of our power lies. Though I struggle to find the words to say it, the answer is actually quite simple: I’ve chosen to grow food because I am human and as a human being I crave connection and nourishment and a sense of place.

“But it’s so much work!” some respond, shaking their heads in disbelief. “When are you going to put that education of yours to use?” I sometimes pause at this, thinking of my student loans and berating myself for not being a bit more practical. Wouldn’t it be more responsible for me to secure a job with benefits, and if I’m lucky, a dental plan? But then I smile. Because, at its best, an education in the liberal arts encourages us to step outside of what is familiar, to examine our lives, and to recognize how our own assumptions, lifestyles and behaviors contribute to some of the very the processes we fight against.

We need to renew the sense of connection between our livelihoods and our collective well-being, between our relationship with the earth and the health of our communities, between the choices we make and the consequences these choices have on people and lands both near and far. My decision to return to my home state and spend my days digging in the dirt with fellow community members was born from a desire to join a movement that is doing the work needed to nourish and sustain this generation, work that will give hope to the next. Yes, the work can be hard, dirty, and sometimes quite frustrating. But more often than not, it is fascinating, satisfying, and fun. And even in its most difficult moment, the work is a source of healing and of love. While we can’t undo the loss and devastation that we have collectively caused, we can examine our own lives and learn to make responsible personal choices, choices that may one day help to transform our collective pain and struggle into prayers of hope.