A Land of Milk and Honey

August 4, 2014 by Samuel LakeSam Lake

I have found that in this world, what you look for, you will find. If you want to find reasons to be cynical, there are plenty of reasons to be cynical. This is especially true when you choose to carry the banner of a cause, when you choose to work for change, when you decide to struggle against the status quo.

Every mission has a vision of what the world could be; this land of milk and honey. For some of us, it is a land where we return to small communities that are able to support themselves. That locally we can grow good food and we can do so sustainably; without exploiting the land or each other. In our promised land the systematic oppression of the poor via industrialized food shall cease. Here in our vision, all will come to understand the Earth as something God has given us to care and sustain as a part of His loving and joyful creation, not as something to subdue and destroy for human gain. Working at Eighth Day, we see the world as it is and we put our hands into the dirt every day with a brighter hope for what it could be.

There is conflict, however, both internally and externally, when there seems to be much working against that vision. There are many reasons to become upset, to get angry and cynical; being hateful is an easy response. We dream of one world; Monsanto seems to dream of another. When it seems that people are working against all that we work for, it is easy to become aggressively defensive of our world which does not yet exist.

What I have learned, however, is that this is ultimately fruitless in so many ways. Anger does not win hearts. Cynicism is a poor conversion tool. What we must remember, as farmers, as lovers of the earth, as lovers of God, as lovers of each other, is that there must be joy at the center of all we do. For this land of milk and honey is not just some far off place that we will someday reach, but it is in fact present right here and right now in the very lives we choose to live. Joy is at the heart of the Gospel of Jesus. It was the core of his being. It was through him that joy truly entered the world, and it is this same joy at the heart of this gospel of agriculture. This joy is not just a joy for farming but a whole joy of living. What we do here as interns, with all our labor, with all our pot lucks, discussions, and community, all must be done as a loving and joyful act. After all, why shouldn’t it be? The life we choose to live and learn about here is not one of somber sacrifice but one of the great joy of living closer with people and closer to the earth. This is what wins hearts. This is what changes minds and directs wallets. Ultimately it is joy that changes that world.

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