“The name of our proper connection to the earth is ‘good work,’ for good work involves much giving of honor. It honors the source of its materials; it honors the place where it is done; it honors the art by which it is done; it honors the thing that it makes and the user of the made thing.” ~ Wendell Berry
Corhaven– the name of this small plot of earth– means “rest for the heart.” This has been the testimony of many who have come to spend time at Corhaven, and as a permanent resident, this has certainly been true for me over the years. But in the season of COVID-19, Corhaven has felt even more like a rest for my weariness in light of the anxiety and gravity that COVID-19 has caused in my work as a nurse practitioner serving the extremely vulnerable elderly living in-long term care facilities. On Mondays and Tuesdays and increasingly throughout the week in this season, these settings are where a great deal of my energies are applied. But in the midst of this very important work comes spring, my favorite season as “one who tends the earth.” All of the thoughtful preparation that comes in the winter is now birthed. New garden designs are taking shape, soil is being amended and seeds are being put in the soil.
In mid-April, the first spring seeds and seedlings were planted and we are seeing the peas, beets, lettuces and fava bean shoots pierce the soil. It is literally one of my favorite things to behold. Mid-May, the estimated time of the last frost in our area is the signal to begin laying out the summer seeds: tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, green beans, to name just a few. This has been the work of the last few months. My body can attest to the labor that it is. But my spirit, too, can attest to the peace I feel laboring in this way. I’ve said often that nature in general, and my garden, in particular, has been where I hear God best. Like the nearby Corhaven Graveyard, the garden is a space where God’s creation is tended prayerfully and offered as a blessing to the world.
We will begin harvesting our produce beginning early-June through the winter when each crop is ready in its set time. We have done several things with our produce over the years. Feeding my own family and friends, making meals for retreats, CSA baskets, and products to sell through Common Good Things. This year, we will be donating half of our produce to help the food insecure in our area as a result of COVID-19.
One of the great joys of living on a farm has been the space and capability to have livestock in our pastures over the years. We gain the experience of respectfully caring for farm animals with the added bonus, hopefully, of lots of petting time and maybe a ride or two for the younger members of our family. This year we have welcomed 3 cows (one for each of our girls, named, Daphne, Ellie and Bella) and 2 pigs (Ralphie and Peppa). On top of the produce grown for donation this year, we will also be able to donate the meat of one cow and both pigs towards the food insecure in our area. It adds to the joy of tending to these animals knowing they will end up being a great blessing to those in need in this season.
Many of our neighbors have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis in ways that many of us cannot comprehend. We are humbled by and grateful for this opportunity to contribute to this justice and call to compassion the Kingdom of God requires and invites us into. Participate in this effort by praying we have a very fruitful harvest this year, and that the animals stay healthy!
I do hope that soon Corhaven can again offer to her guests rest for their hearts. Though there have been some gifts to the quiet that this season has brought to our family life, we miss welcoming those who come to seek the peace offered here.