The corn is towering. Never did seeing those green shoots coming up in neat rows mean so much as it did this spring. It wasn’t for the sake of productivity or yield, but for the sake of my soul. Corn growing in a field is normal.
Onions in the garden have never looked so good. Usually when weeding around them, as their strong aroma reaches my nose, I imagine the soups and stews they will flavor in the fall and winter. Now I’m just grateful to tend to something that is simple and predictable.
Recently I was a guest on a video cast with a ministry about sheep and shepherding within a Biblical context. It’s a concept I write about and think about a lot. I needed to visit that theme again. The viewing audience needed it. We all need it. Whenever I speak on this topic to those who have no frame of reference for caring for livestock, the feedback makes it clear we are starved for a sense that we belong, and that we are safely kept.
Things are always cropping up when you care for livestock. You cannot predict issues, and you cannot ignore them. But there is a grounding, consistent routine and surety about being a caretaker. Even when an emergency arises within the herd or flock, you can address the situation almost on autopilot because things are consistent over the course of time.
It is steady. It is normal. It’s what you do, day in and day out. Taking a few days off is kind of nice, but then you realize, you need them; you need to “shepherd” your animals. Just like when the corn, beans and onions stretch up and out of the ground — it’s good for your soul to see and experience.
Balm for strange times
The turmoil of the world doesn’t cease. Like arrows coming at you in rapid succession are the information and news — so much bad and disturbing news. But open the barn door or take a walk through the field. Twist some tomatoes or zucchini off the vine, observe contented cows chewing their cuds while lying in the shade … and your heart beats a little slower and the weight lifts a bit from your shoulders.
So much of what we usually participate in during the summer doesn’t exist this year. All the continual changing and shifting — sometimes out from under us — has resulted in the realization that “normal” no longer anchors us to a resting place of relief.
But the caretakers of flocks and herds and the producers of all that grows in the soil are still stewarding and cultivating what looks to be as it always has been. Corn still grows up straight and tall. Cows can still be found lying in the shade chewing their cuds. The saltshaker still begs to be carried to the garden to the sun-warmed tomatoes. The onions look good, and it is well with my soul.
McClain writes from Greenwood, Ind.