I am what some would call a cradle Episcopalian. I was raised a member of Bethesda By The Sea Episcopal church in Palm Beach, Florida; and have spent my adult life a part of the family of St. Christopher’s in Cozad, Nebraska.
While I am a regular church goer, the heart of my spiritualism lies outside of the doors of the church building. It is deeply rooted in nature and is an integral part of my adult life.
- It is present on my cattle farm.
- It is present in the volunteer work that I do to improve animal (cattle) welfare.
- It is present on the youth athletic fields where I mentor and coach.
Friday afternoon I will be sharing my thoughts on the topic Feeding the Body and the Soul: A look at how we grow food and spiritualism in Central Nebraska at the 145th Annual Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska.
While I am very open and transparent about how I raise cattle and grow beef on my farm, I tend to hold my faith in a more private place. Despite that introverted tendency, I “take God with me” on my life journey.
There is something about wide open spaces and farming the land that lends itself to being closely tied to faith. Perhaps it is the beauty of a sunset over the plains…Perhaps it is the feeling of intense pride and contentment that comes from growing things with your own two hands…Perhaps it is the feeling of helplessness that comes from witnessing the brutality of Mother Nature…Most likely, it is all of these things that lends a farmer toward a strong personal spiritualism.
I have a sign in one of my flower gardens that reads: The kiss of the sun for pardon; The song of the birds for mirth. One is nearer God’s heart in a garden, than any place else on the earth.
There are times when I am exercising calves in the early morning light when I feel a comforting presence about me. I feel peace, and with it a strong sensation that I am where I was meant to be. When I think of what I desire most in the world as a parent, it is that my children will grow up to discover a vocation that brings them this same sense of “rightness”.
It is true that Nebraska is an enormous contributor to our country’s food supply. Agriculture is the heart of our communities, our lives, and our economy. If our rural “Fly Over State” is known for anything, it is for corn, crops and cattle. What folks outside of our small communities might not realize is the strong sense of faith that prevails amongst the farms and ranches that permeate our state.
Just as Nebraska grows food, that growth of food seems intrinsically tied to faith. That spiritual belief moves us forward in good times and in times of challenges. It unites us into a diverse family and creates a sense of “neighborliness” that is truly unique.
The next time that you think of Nebraska, you’ll have to add faith to the list of things that we grow—it blossoms amidst the bounty that our land produces…