We work so hard to be good. We worry about which causes we should support. We develop projects to provide help. Our society is action oriented. We see a problem and we swing into action.
Thank goodness we do, but let's not think that is the whole story. A recent small incident made me think again about how we can help others.
I regularly travel to a small local farm. I have come to know some of the people who work there, and they clearly work very hard. Making a small farm sustainable must require many more hours of hard manual labour than I would be willing to do. But I love it for several reasons. I relish the produce they have, knowing that has always been raised sustainably and knowing I will enjoy each taste of what I buy.
I also love it for the atmosphere. It is tranquil. Breezes blow. They have created a setting that in our romantic minds typifies a small old-fashioned farm, belying the efficiency and energy that makes it work.
The farm runs a CSA program. The CSA programs are ways that small farmers can help finance their operations. People pay the farmer a lump sum in the fall. This provides the farmer with the upfront money for sowing their crops for next year. In return the farm provides the investor with a weekly basket of produce in the summer and early fall. It is popular, and indeed this farm has more interest than it can cope with if it is to have produce for the occasional people like us.
One day recently, as I was chatting to them, while picking up some vegetables, I heard a lovely story about one family who come weekly for their bag of CSA goodies. The family is a single parent and three small children. I can imagine the energy that parent needs to cope with three small children by themselves, but they obviously want the children to eat well, so they have their weekly CSA bags of food. But the family does not just come out, pick it up and return home. They all come, and they usually stay for a couple of hours. For a couple of hours the children run around the farm chasing each other, playing games. They will stop for a while, buy a homemade cookie, and sit in a pergola eating and looking in their weekly bags to see what they have for that week. I did not hear what the parent does, but I can only imagine what a piece of bliss this must be. For two hours they can relax in a tranquil setting, while the children run and whoop with all the energy of their age. The farm loves having them around, the children are happy, the parent has a space and they leave with some great food.
The farm did not set out to provide assistance to single parents, but just doing what they do, in the way they do it, they provided a wonderful service, not planned, but just because of who they are.
You do not have to look for anything - Just look
You do not have to listen for specific sounds - Just listen
You do not have to accomplish anything - Just be.
And in the looking
And the listening
And the Being
Written by Peter Bayley