We sat making introductions and small talk at our dinner tables at the annual Minnesota Farmers Union convention banquet, anticipating the first course of local foods soon to be consumed.
Pastor Eric Monson, lead pastor at Eagle Bend Assembly of God, Todd County, walked up to the podium to offer the meal’s invocation.
Before bowing our heads, Monson shared that the inspiration for his prayer came from his grandfather, Irving Marvin Monson. He wrote it after reflecting on time spent with him and after reviewing some notes he had made during conversations with him.
Monson’s love and gratefulness for this special person in his life and his beloved avocation came through as he shared:
Thank you, God, for our farmers! For those who touch the soil, who feel it under their fingernails and under their boots; who smell of it when it rains; for those who know it intimately.
Thank you for those who care for the animals, who nurture them with care, who hear their cries and respond in a moment’s notice.
Being a farmer can be a hard life, Lord. When the income doesn’t match the bills, when the market is so inconsistent, and the weather doesn’t cooperate how we would like.
Be with our farmers, Lord, and particularly the farming families in our lives, in hard times as well as the good.
Help us to create a society where farmers are once again respected and compensated for their work fairly.
We pray for farmers and our communities when the rain does not come, or comes too hard, or comes too late.
We pray for those whose land is exhausted and depleted.
We pray for those who can’t afford the cost of production.
All of our farmers rely on the good earth and we pray for the earth today, too. Help us to take care of it, help us to cherish it so we can pass it on safely to a new generation.
We are so thankful for the beautiful land you have given to us, generous in wealth and rich in soil. It truly is a garden of delight for us who live here in this land.
It is your gift to us and we thank you for it.
2019 has been a really hard year for farmers, and sometimes it’s difficult to know what more to say. This prayer frankly acknowledged the pain, asking for help for those who are struggling, while thanking all who carry the responsibility of tending the earth and producing food.
Monson later shared that his grandfather was and still is one of his heroes. His grandfather had operated a small dairy farm of Jersey cows just outside of Leonard, Dudley Township, in Clearwater County. When Monson was a boy, his grandparents rented out the farm land and no longer milked cows. Instead, his grandfather operated a small gas station. His grandparents have since passed away.
“The land is still within the family,” Monson said. “The barn still sits empty and it seems like it shouldn't be. A part of me dreams that one day, it will be an operating farm again.”
Monson continues his farming legacy, raising lamb, chicken and turkeys on his family farm, Heritage Acres, near Wadena.
Maybe someday, someone will fill his grandparents’ barn with cattle again.
That is a farmer’s true gift — the hope, spirit and belief of a better year.