Friday, October 23, 2015

Farmers: Saints of Our Society

A priest who is working in the country with a small farming community writes about a recent experience in With Bible. He had just returned  from the city after taking care of a problem with his neck.  Some of the members of the community had returned  from picking wild blue berries in the mountains behind their village. They were attacked by a swarm of ground digger wasps  once they are on the person it is almost  impossible to chase them off even with a towel. The catechist was bitten 50 to 70 times  and the manager about 50 times.

After the attack, the catechist tried to run away and lost his glasses. They were taken to the public health center; the catechist's blood pressure  dropped and was in shock and as white as a sheet. They called the ambulance to take him to the emergency room of a nearby hospital.

The priest went looking for the glasses in the area in which they were picking wild blue berries with his dog but no sign of the glasses, and he was even bitten by one of the wasps on the back of his hand. He received a call from the manager that the catechist's blood pressure had returned to normal, and the body coldness disappeared. If the catechist had died, it would have been the end of his experiment in community living. 

He quickly drove his truck to the hospital, and on the way was  bitten on the ankle by another wasp he had brought along with him in his shoe. He showed the catechist the bite on the hand and easily commiserated with the catechist who had 50 of these bites.

The next day they went to a nearby Catholic church to hear the talk of a Buddhist monk who had graduated from the college seminary. The models he praised were Mother Theresa, Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, and Charles de Foucauld. The theme of the monk's talk was understanding  comes from experience. 

"... My greatest interest is in the spiritual world. Without experience of pain, we will not have  understanding. I did all the Buddhist meditations, but I felt a dryness that did not leave me.

I decided to go to a country that was poor and undergo some of their trials at which time I met the Dalai Lama and Mother Theresa. What kind of life is necessary to experience an opening to the spiritual?  It is not speaking well but giving happiness to others. Mother Theresa is a good example of this life... Another example is the Dalai Lama with whom I spent time. The emptier a person's interior life is the more embellishment in the talk and exterior. We are  in a period, sadly, in which we package up the exterior gorgeously.

I remember talking to Thomas Merton while with the Dalai Lama: one holy man meeting another. Dalai Lama canceled all his appointments for four days. He was fighting for the independence of Tibet, and  Merton was against the Vietnam War. They were both pacifists. Merton was electrocuted in a hotel in Bangkok and there was talk it was an assassination by the American CIA.

Often I get telephone calls from Korea asking me why is life so dry? They all have to do with the loss of meaning. I answered: they should fast for three days. In India, they only have one side dish. In Korea were not happy because we eat too well. Who are the Saints today? It's the farmers."

Both the farmers and the doctors give life to people, but doctors make thousands of dollars and the farmers hundreds. The farmers give life to the doctors and are not understood by our upside-down society. Farmers are saints because they give life to others with their sacrifice.

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