A sabbath way of life

March 12, 2012

I spent about three hours digging part (about 1/5) of our raised garden yesterday afternoon. Ever since we moved into this house in 2007, we have hoped to grow vegetables. We promptly got pregnant with Nathan (born in 2008) and Eliza (born in 2010) and, well, gardening seemed way down on the list of priorities.

Now that Eliza is two and Nathan will soon be four, we feel like life is settling into something  of a routine. We’re getting better at being parents, and being the sort of parents that our children need. You can read my reflections on what it means to be a “good father” here. I’ve discovered that there’s no such thing as an abstraction of “good father.” Really good fathers are intimately connected with the specific personalities, temperaments, and needs of their children…not to mention other culture-specific factors. And while I don’t “have that father thing down,” I do feel like I have more room in my life for bringing some of our earlier hopes back to life (resurrecting them, if you wish).

The idea of reviving the garden happened through the confluence of several things. First, I am due for a sabbatical in the next four months. As I thought about what I’d like to do during my period of ceasing, drawing closer to the earth was one of the things that came to mind. Over the years I’ve heard several interviews with Orthodox theologian Vigen Guroian. He writes about the intersection of faith and practice in the act of gardening. As an Orthodox Christian, Guroian finds immense connection between the content of his belief and its practice not only in the Divine Liturgy, but in everyday life as well. Guroian’s faith is an enacted faith which touches every part of life and makes it, in a sense, sacramental.

Life doesnt very often seem sacramental to me. At least for me, I find that living and working in 2012 has the propensity to depersonalize and dephysicalize (is that a word?) life. Much of my work is done with the assistance of a computer or phone. I work from home. I don’t know my neighbors terribly well. I read a lot. I worship as part of a community of faith for whom symbolism is limited (we’re presbyterians and evangelicals!). Sometimes it feels like my whole life is lived in my head. (Granted, this is peculiar problem for INTJs).

I’ll be writing more about our experiment in farming as the weeks progress, but this is one part of how it got started. Stay tuned for more!