The family that owns my local dry cleaner also farms a couple of thousand acres of wheat and beans. You can’t be a farmer without having gone through hard times. Today, while in picking up a few things, one of them started talking about what it takes to get through today’s hard times. “Faith,” he said. “That’s how you get through hard times. What else is there?”
What faith was he talking about? You can have faith in a lot of things, and the sort of generic unfocused faith in God that some people express doesn’t carry much weight. I have a feeling that the faith some people cling to is more like a wishful expectation that sooner or later the dice will roll in their favor, and hopefully that will happen before there is nothing left.
I think my wheat farming, dry cleaning friends have something else in mind. I know a little about them, and when they say faith, they mean a deep and abiding trust in God, even if they don’t understand much about God’s ways or whether God much cares how the dice roll.
They probably could not cite the verse, but they are among those who know “…that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8.28) I doubt they would be so naïve as to think that means that all things turn out just peachy. No farmer would. But they live in the day-to-day knowledge that however bad things might get, and they do get bad, God is always present to provide some opportunity for good to happen. If we spend our time in miserable despair we probably will not see that opportunity come and never take advantage of it. They are fortunate to belong to a parish (R.C.) led by a vigorous young priest where the gospel is proclaimed in a responsible and joy filled way, and where the 2,000-year-old tradition of the church is applied flexibly. I think this is doubly important for them, and many like them in our valley, who are “rock ribbed Republicans” who have eaten nothing but right-wing drivel for twenty years and are very suspect of the incoming administration. It makes a difference that their parish has not aided and abetted that, but has remained steadfast in Jesus’ teachings and life. The same cannot be said for all the congregations in our valley. In fact, I think that is a large part of what has made Christian evangelism so difficult. But that is a subject for a real rant at a later time. I need to get the curmudgeon to write about that.
In the meantime, get up each morning. Give thanks to God for the beauty of the day. Go out and do the needful work of the day. Give thanks to God for the blessings, however small, that salted it. Prepare for the next day and sing Alleluia.
Obviously this is an unfinished essay, and I invite you to complete it in your own way.