Tag Archives: Work

Meditating in the “Quietude” of a Rototiller

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This is not my tiller, but it just didn’t seem right to not put a picture of a tiller on this post.

I have mentioned my irrationally large garden in the past. With great plots of land come great responsibility. Or something like that…

Anyway, what I have not mentioned here all that much is my childhood. But as I was sweating bullets behind a rototiller this weekend, I hearkened back to the days of my youth.

You see, I grew up on a dairy farm. And although I chose not to pursue farm life as a vocation in adulthood, I have largely fond memories of life on the farm. My summers were filled nearly every day with work responsibilities. Sounds great, eh? Well, yes… it was. At the time, I’m sure I would have preferred to be off doing my own thing all the time, but I know in retrospect that I turned out much better for having worked most summer days. For one thing, I certainly appreciated the free time I had when it was available.

As parents, my wife and I struggle a bit with trying to find ways to instill a work ethic and sense of responsibility in our kids. I’m sorry, but 90% of us (or more) either have too low of expectations of our kids, are too lazy ourselves to find ways to get our kids working, or flat out run out of meaningful things for them to do. And it shows often enough in different ways, even with well-behaved kids. We are guilty of all the above at times.

There was no risk of any of that on the farm. Not enough hours in the day was a bigger issue.

Sorry. I write as I think, and this post was not intended at the onset to be a dissertation on parenting towards a work ethic. So, I’ll try to get back on path here.

So anyway, in my younger days I was on the tractor often. You drive the tractor to cut the hay down. You drive the tractor to rake the hay. You drive the tractor to bail the hay. You drive the tractor to spread the manure – I have a nice story about that… but not now. Let’s just say that the story involves a younger sister, a misunderstanding, few unfortunate curse words, and multiple showers. But again, I digress.

You often hear about how much “noise” we have in our society today. When we speak of that, I think it’s important to differentiate between the “noise” of distraction and audible noise. Watching TV, talking on the phone, texting, scouring the internet, e-mailing, listening to the radio (music or ball games), listening to an iPod (I prefer generic mp3 players myself), reading spiritually desolate material, any work we do that engages the mind in a way that prevents us from contemplating other things… the list goes on. When our attention is somewhere that disallows meditation or even random musings, then that is “noise.” It is not that we can’t incorporate these things into our lives. They range from things that bring us pleasure to things that are necessary for our livelihood. But when we inundate ourselves with these things from morning to evening, we do not take time for prayer or contemplation of any kind. Further, when we try to take a few minutes of silence, we are distracted from it and find it difficult to focus. It seems a foreign thing to us.

But in those countless hours of driving a large piece of farm equipment that was anything but noiseless, I found silence. I can remember many times engaging my mind in completely different ways as I rode around in the field. I prayed many a time out on the tractor as I looked around and appreciated God’s creation around me. I simply contemplated many spiritual profundities and formulated both questions and answers to other questions. And while I was always a relatively faithful Catholic kid, it’s not as though I was an “on-fire for the spirit” Jesus freak. But the time on the farm simply brought me there, and it was a very natural response to the situation I was in. Beyond the spiritual, I “wrote” a number of songs in my head as I raked the hay, later to be translated into actual music. I just let my mind go where it went without disruption, and appreciated the random occurrences of seeing a Badger pop out of a hole in the ditch, or a hawk pounce upon a rodent scurrying about in the field. Nobody around me would have guessed how silent that tractor really was.

I recalled that because I found myself doing the same thing this weekend while working in the garden. As I maneuvered the rototiller, there was little realization that I was in “contemplation mode” until a sudden consciousness about it came over me. I was somewhere between the pumpkins and the cantaloupe as I realized that for the last half hour, thoughts about different Catholic issues that I’d discussed with others were bouncing around my empty head. Similar to not remembering a dream during the night, I was so in my little world, that it is difficult to recall what all had been considered as I traversed between rows of corn, and then moved onto the broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. For certain, though, there was no talking, mindless listening to my favorite music, or in any way incorporating LOL into the activity at hand.

I have truly come to appreciate what I’m sure my dad has always loved about the farm. I find myself envious of the amount of time he has probably spent during his life quietly going about his work – as physically demanding as it often is – and offering that time up to God in one way or another, or just mulling and thinking.

Thinking is good. I think…

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Random Reflections for the 2012 Summer Solstice

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Happy Summer!

Well, I’ve been a bit tied up lately and needed to make the choice that the blog here was a lower priority than a lot of other work that had to be done in both my personal and professional life. But I thought I’d just offer a personal reflection today.

Our lives are truly amazing. I sometimes find it difficult to find God in the work I do, but He is there. He has given me the skills and abilities to provide for my family. I was called to be a husband and father and never felt the call to religious life. To be fair, when I was younger I didn’t spend a great deal of time in discernment over it, but I do recall always feeling pulled towards married life. My education and circumstance has led to doing work for an insurance company. My job is beneficial to society and I put in an honest day’s work, but I can remember struggling a bit with the idea that, as I started really blossoming in my faith, that I wasn’t “doing more.” In other words, I almost thought I should feel called to some sort of ministry instead of a secular job. But I didn’t. So, I almost questioned my seriousness of faith because I thought I should feel called but actually didn’t feel called. A wise Priest friend of mine basically called me an idiot (in a nice way) and pointed out that we just need to be the best Catholics everywhere we are, and that the world needs good Catholics everywhere. Not that my company is unethical or dishonest – they aren’t – but I can help make sure that it stays that way. Further, God has blessed me with the ability in my work to provide for my family in such a way that my wife stays home and homeschools. I learned during this time to not look a gift horse in the mouth, and accept the blessings God has provided. Further, just to make sure I’m where I need to be, we pray as a family often for the ability to hear and understand and respond to God’s call in our lives. God can request a change in direction at any time, and we need to be ready.

At Mass last Sunday we heard about the mustard seed. I couldn’t help but think about my own gardens. I have not discussed it much here, but we have a somewhat massive gardening operation. It is a lot of hard work, and I start most of the plants we grow in a little greenhouse. Very few things help me to recognize the miracle of God’s creation like saving a seed from one of last year’s tomatoes and then planting it and watching it grow to yield a large plant with numerous tomatoes and countless other seeds. One tiny seed not only yields fruit, but also yields so many seeds within those fruit that you could literally cover the earth with tomato plants within a handful of generations of plants if you had enough people to harvest them and plant them and nurture them. This is unmistakeably miraculous, but it is so commonplace in our lives that we don’t give it a second thought – until you start toiling and working and thinking. And yes, I do have a mustard plant…

Youth baseball is coming to an end, and this is an occasion of praise! 🙂 The 9 year old has games on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while the 7 year old has games on Mondays and Wednesdays. Both love it and we are thankful to be able to provide this activity for them, but it really does creat havoc with the summer schedule, so we are always happy to see it end. The rest of the summer can now be freed up for more camping activities and other things.

I am, God-willing and time-able, planting the seeds for recording a new CD. I plan on focusing on Catholic prayers and devotions for this one, with some other stuff as well, but probably not incorporating much of the harder-driving music that I love to do. But I really want to focus on this. I also want to pull in a lot of talented people I know to be involved in it as well. Lots of visions and plans, but we’ll see where it goes. It’s not a top priority, but hope to steal time here and there. I would also like to find time to upload more songs from my last CD to youtube, and will be sure to link to any that I do.

In case you’re a late-arriver to this blog and have not seen/heard the three music youtube vids to songs on my CD, here are the links:

https://catholicdiatribes.wordpress.com/2010/05/02/holy-water-on-youtube/
https://catholicdiatribes.wordpress.com/2010/05/03/i-dream-of-heaven/
https://catholicdiatribes.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/quiet-time/

Yes, it really has been almost 2 years since I uploaded them, and have done NOTHING since. Shame on me. I’ll try to get some more up.

Blessings to all of you. I’ll try to get back into the prophetic walk through the Catechism shortly.