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I Will Lift Up My Eyes

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?—Psalm 121:1

I’m a farmer, and we’ve come into the busiest part of the year. The days are full and over-full with harvesting and spraying and pruning and harvesting and weeding and watering and bug-picking and harvesting and canning and freezing and drying and harvesting again. I tend to get focused on the problems: blight here, beetles there, leak in the drip irrigation system there…

When I come inside the radio and computer bring me a steady stream of disturbing news. Domestically, there are shootings, and people arguing over who is to blame; drought, fires, floods; ugly and trivial arguments between the people who claim they can lead our country…

When I keep my focus too constantly on my own work and on the messes people have created I easily become anxious, irritable and discouraged. I am learning to redirect my gaze every now and again, to lift my eyes.

Sometimes this is a literal practice; after bending over infected tomato plants for a while I stand up and look at the sky, at the birds, at the wind in the trees on the hill across the road, at the wind in the long grass.  I remember that the place where I work is a very small one, tucked into the vastness and the beauty and the richness of the created world. My breaths come deeper and slower and I turn back to my work, still heedful of what is working well and what isn’t and what has to be done, but unstuck from my anxious preoccupation with myself.

Daily prayer time serves a similar purpose. I take a little while to step back from my worries about my neighbors, my work, my world and myself, and to remember the presence and power and love of the Creator of the world. I come back from this time of recollection, still carrying whatever burdens have been laid on me, but knowing that God will give me strength to carry them. Knowing, also, that my work and my loving are only a small part of the vast and beautiful love and work of God.

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