And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:8-9, 15) And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28-28)
Of all the occupations that exist, the only broad category that existed prior to the Fall was that of the cultivator, the farmer, the gardener. It was the original work God created for Adam and his wife to do, to be keepers of God’s Garden, stewards of His Creation, keepers of the fields and the trees, the livestock and other animals. They were to carefully and responsibly manage the world that God had made. To take care of it. To tend it. To cultivate it. To nurture it. And even after the Fall, this mandate was to continue to be carried out by everyone, but it is especially seen today in those who live and and work as the cultivators, the growers, the caretakers.
It is National Agriculture Day, and most people will zero in pretty quickly on the farming and ranching side of agriculture, and may have a pretty specific idea that comes to mind without thinking of just how gloriously broad this category is, encompassing or touching so many of our most basic needs! Where does your bread come from? The milk in your fridge? Meat? Eggs? Pet foods? Medicines and herbs? Wood to build homes, or wood to heat? In some way, shape, or form, agriculture is involved.
But this isn’t purely utilitarian. So much of the flavor and beauty of living has at its root in the growing and cultivating of life. Trees and shrubs for landscaping. Cut flowers for bouquets. Succulent fruits, nourishing vegetables. Cotton and linen and wool to make textiles for beautifying our homes, all rely on agriculture. Beauty is cultivated, and the abundance of life is made even more abundant.
In so many cases with farms and ranches and the working of livestock, it is generational work, one in which the oldest generation is teaching the youngest generation, where knowledge and skills and values and morals are being handed down, where the family unit truly is the center of the endeavor. It makes me think of God’s command to His people, all the way back in Deuteronomy, the command to “Honor your father and your mother….that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16) One of the great joys living in the agricultural community is seeing families working with families, spouses working with spouses, and being able to live and experience that myself.
And this life! It is the satisfaction of taking a seed and watching it grow and bringing it to harvest. It is the joy of delivering fresher-than-fresh eggs to a neighbor, or serving a loaf of homemade bread to a friend. It is the heart-warming delight of watching a mother cow get her new calf to stand and nurse. It is the pain of seeing death. The uncertainty of dry dams and wildly fluctuating cattle prices. The trust that God will provide. It is a life of working alongside loved ones, to fellowship and break bread, where family upon family from the broader community come together, where names are known from one part of the state to another, simply by virtue of being a part of this community, the ranching community. It is a life and a livelihood richer and sweeter than I could have imagined before God married me to a rancher and into one of the kindest families I’ve ever met, into one of the strongest communities I’ve ever seen. This life is a constant reminder that all that we have is from God, and He has given us the job of stewarding it well. Taking what is and making the most of it, making it more, making it feed our families, our communities.
It is a life brimming full of life.
What a beautiful tribute to the importance of agriculture in our lives and communities! From the satisfaction of watching plants grow to the joy of sharing fresh eggs and homemade bread with others, it is clear that farming and gardening are about so much more than just providing food. This article reminds us of the important role that agriculture plays in our daily lives and in passing down knowledge from one generation to the next.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Beautifully written and every word so true!
Thank you, Sheryl! It is a good and beautiful life.