Monday, February 3, 2014

Returning to the Farm

Going back to the farm is a popular new movement within Korean society. City life can be hectic and the lure of a carefree country life, with a chance to renew dreams of a better life, has become an attractive option for many weary city dwellers.

Statistics show that in the past few years over 10,000 people have made the change. The government has allotted subsidies and loans for those returning to the farms. Those who desire a happy, family-orientated and slow-paced life close to nature, without the pressure of city life, will find it very satisfying. Those who are looking for success and money will be disappointed.

A woman who returned to the country eight years ago and is living a happy farmer's life writes in the Catholic Times about her experiences. She was brought up in a small, quiet country town, she says, but spent most of her life in Seoul. She described her feelings when she decided to return to the country as "leaving the jungle of buildings for the grove of pine trees, and the noisy city for the quiet country."

Her country home, 300 meters above sea level, with only four other families nearby, is surrounded by rice  paddies and a dry field. It has helped her to become, she says, closer to God and, by working with the earth and doing the farm chores, she has a deeper understanding of the teachings of Jesus. She feels that losing our closeness to the earth has made it difficult for us to understand many of the parables in the Bible.

Before returning to the country, she had considered the time after the Fall harvest one of desolation, and at times lonely. Now she sees this time as an opportunity to enjoy a period of rest, to offer thanks for the harvest, and to prepare for a new beginning in the Spring.

Nature in the winter months seems without movement, but deep down, out of sight, it is, she reminds us, preparing for the new season. In nature there is no remorse, frustration or vacillation, she says, just rest, new beginnings and life, always and everywhere life. Whether hidden or evident, Nature is always animated with the movement of life. Living with nature we learn at a deeper, experiential level what rest can mean in renewing our sense of self. God, himself, rested on the seventh day. She would like to know how many of her readers have used this easily overlooked method of renewing their lives by resting occasionally more often during the day, whether in the city or in the country. 

Pope Francis, it was reported, has in mind to write his first encyclical on the environment. He has often spoken on the subject; his words in an address he gave last year on the environment will probably indicate the substance of what he will write in the encyclical. "We are losing our attitude of wonder, of contemplation, of listening to creation and thus we are no longer able to see and understand in creation what Benedict XVI calls 'the rhythm of the love story between God and man'. Why does this happen? Why do we think and live 'horizontally'? Because we have drifted away from God. We no longer read his signs."

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