May 5, 2010
Clouds sheet the morning sky. Blanketed from light gray to heavy pond-bottom-mud gray the easternmost edge wavers allowing sunrise colors to break through. Falling rain create an unbelievable landscape scene as rainbows mix with sunrise. An appropriate morning sky for wondering the day’s choices.
Two events occur today, both are important to the farm. One is the Junior Livestock Show in Toppenish and the other is theologian Elaine Pagels speaking on The Cultural Impact of the Book of Revelation at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle. On the surface, one might wonder how Elaine Pagels thoughts on the cultural impact of the Book of Revelation matter to the farm. Well, without attending, I am not sure. But almost twenty years ago I read Pagels book The Gnostic Gospels which explores a time of struggle of various ways of Christian thinking and how one mindset might become orthodox and another heretical. This struggle and fallacy of right or wrong thinking, at many levels, has something to do with how soil, plant, water, and life is treated within the landscape of the JustLiving Farm. Considering how the Book of Revelation has influenced human culture may, in turn, have something to say to the treatment of cultures embedded in the landscape. I’m not going to find out today though.
The Junior Livestock Show is an event we attend every year. The Livestock Show is a community event that speaks very much to this landscape’s culture. Youth from high schools throughout the valley have been at the Toppenish Fairgrounds since Sunday. They have washed, coddled, and shown their animals for the very best they are (both the youth and the animal). Today is the final day, and it is auction day. History has shown it is a time of feeling good about what one has done, and a little sadness. Youth have spent months of their lives feeding, grooming, walking, and caring for their animal. They all have worked hard and today is that final day when they can experience the feeling of a job well done. It is also the day of the auction, when that animal they have spent a good portion of their life with, is placed on the auction block. This moment, in the arena, is a hard one for many youth. Feelings are multiple. Two feelings are at the forefront though. One, the desire to get a good price for the animal, which will pay for all those hours of hard work, contrasts with the second, walking away from an animal whom hours of life has been spent. The swirling of thought and emotions are too hard to deal with for many as the auctioneer accepts one bid after the next, until there is nothing else to do but show the animal while tears fall one after the other.
Missing hearing Elaine Pagels speak today is a loss. But not to be in community, with the youth of community, in this time of elation and sadness, would be missing a moment embedded in the land. That would be akin to not having the opportunity to experience the swirling horizon of rainbows and sunrise. I opt for rainbows, sunrise, and youth.
© David B. Bell 2010
Here’s a You Tube video of Pagels on the same subject from a UC Santa Barbara lecture http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-dF4UmWYAo