Tag Archives: Farming

Finding Perfection in Brokenness

My family had a rare evening last night when all extracurricular activities were cancelled. We decided to get outside and spend time at a park. It was a beautiful evening and even the family dog enjoyed it with us. When we arrived home, our children asked to watch a movie. Most of television programming is such junk today, that we have purchased some DVDs of movies which uplift and give hope. We let my youngest son chose the movie for us all. He chose Seabiscuit.

If you haven’t watched this movie, you should. It is a story that intertwines the lives of three people and the struggles they went through during the Depression. It is a story of those same people finding each other and healing each other through a race horse named Seabiscuit. There are some difficult scenes in this movie, so I would either limit it for younger children or watch it first, and fast forward through those scenes. But overall, it is such a powerful story that I highly recommend it.

The fact that my son picked this movie doesn’t surprise me. It seems that healing was a theme in my life yesterday. Earlier in the day, my sister and I were discussing how every person and every family has brokenness and sin. This came up because our extended family is planning a gathering at our family farm in Nebraska to celebrate a 50th Wedding Anniversary, and 80th Birthday, and a 17th Wedding Anniversary, as well as the upcoming sale of our family farm in Nebraska. The farm has been in the family for over 100 years. But we have been leasing the land to local farmers for decades as all of us moved on to other occupations. This is a time to remember and let go. It is a joyful and sad moment for my entire family, and when family gathers, all kinds of issues arise.

Our family is not perfect. We have alcoholism, overeating, anxiety, suicide–you name it and we probably have it. But the truth is we also have a lot of love. We know we are not perfect, yet our love is strong. However, there are some people in my family who harshly judge other family members. They cannot relate to them or do not want to spend time with them. They cannot stand their brokenness. In fact, they choose to think that certain people are “perfect.”

I love that line in “Seabiscuit” where Mr. Howard wakes up in the middle of the night very perturbed and tells his wife, “Perfect. He’s perfect. What the hell does “perfect” mean? What? You show me something that’s perfect, I’ll show you something that’s not.” People who think others are perfect are looking at the outside of people or the surface of their lives and they believe that these “perfect” people have no faults, no issues, no sin. This is setting these “perfect” people up for a big fall off the pedestal you have set them upon. They are sinners like you and I. Their families have brokenness, whether they want to face it or not.

The only person who is perfect is Jesus Christ. Yes, we are called to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, but that takes a lifetime to come close to accomplishing. In the meantime, we have to learn to accept our weaknesses, change what we can change, and love each other the best we can. I guess the script writer of Seabiscuit said it best, “You know, everybody thinks we found this broken-down horse and fixed him, but we didn’t. He fixed us. Every one of us. And I guess in a way we kinda fixed each other, too.”

Advertisements

Hard Work Brings Its Own Rewards

What happened to good ol’ hard work? I mean really? What happened? When physical work went away, we lost the lessons that came with that hard work and I don’t think we realized it. As an example, my children have no idea what “hanging laundry” means, but I can close my eyes and hear Grandma singing and smell the flowers she diligently planted and tended in her yard by the laundry lines. I can smell those crisp white sheets that she ironed and put on the guest bed for me. Yes, it was hard work, but both the results and process were amazing!

How about homegrown vegetables–remember those? Both sets of my grandparents had giant gardens that produced more than they could ever use. They canned what they might need in the winter, but then they shared with neighbors and whoever was in need. The closest my children can come to understand this is having a commercial canned food drive for the food pantry at church. I would like to say I learned to garden from my grandparents, but I grew up in the city where my parents had moved which was far from the family farm and small town where my grandparents lived.

My paternal grandparents were farmers, although both had college educations which was rare for those times. My maternal grandparents were a barber and housewife who took in washing and ironing. Both sets of grandparents knew what hard work meant. My parents were wise enough to send me and my siblings for long visits during the summer. It was during these trips that I learned to hand wash dishes, hang laundry, make beds, weed gardens, fish for dinner, herd cattle out of the corn, drive a vehicle, walk to daily Mass, and build wood bridges over creeks.

Telling you all about my grandparents makes me miss them terribly since they have all passed on. They loved me in a very special way. My own husband never really knew any of his grandparents because they had all died by the time he was five years old. He did get to know three of my four grandparents which was a blessing for him.

I’ve thought a lot about my grandparents and their hard work ethic. I think the real secret to their ability to work hard was their ability to rest. They had a mid-afternoon rest time where we would all gather in their living room and pick our nap spot. They had the most comfortable pillows in the world. I can still see them and feel them in my mind’s eye. And somehow that room was cool, even though they didn’t have air conditioning. We would rest for an hour and it was wonderful. We were ready to go with another round of work once we had rested.

Even better yet, as hard as they all worked, they loved God even more. So on Sundays, after Mass, we enjoyed time together over a large meal. We did nothing on Sundays except be with Christ and be together. It was slice of heaven on earth. All my grandparents had faith and lived it the best way they knew how. I may not have learned how to garden from them or how to run a farm, nor do I have the rewards of the type of hard physical work they knew, but I have something even better — their faith.