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Appreciate farm workers

Farmworkers Appreciation Day

1st appeared on https://godspacelight.com/2022/08/06/farmworkers-appreciation-day/?mc_cid=9b59e48612&mc_eid=6b10e54045 on 6th August 2022

Taken by myself on one of my dog walks on the beach

Ok so I’d never heard of Farmworker Appreciation Day before it appeared on the Godspace email but it has really made me think. In fact the National Farmworkers Ministry has a whole week in March where is brings about awareness of farmworkers. Check out this site – https://nfwm.org/news/nfaw-2022/. This site tells you a bit about its history – https://nationaltoday.com/farmworker-appreciation-day/ But really all these “national days” should be a kickstarter to get us thinking not just a “do today and then forget about it/them”

My friend, Eric, is a cow man. He’s been a cowman most of his life. He turned 60 this year. He works long very physical hours and only gets every other weekend off. His pay is not great and he cannot retire until he reaches statutory retirement age.

But for Eric at least he lives in the UK. For those who bringing our food from elsewhere or who have been trafficked in to work over here their conditions can be terrible. But we expect our shops and supermarkets and doorstep deliveries to have a large variety of food at a price we can afford. But how often do we think how it got to us? We cannot appreciate something if we don’t even think about how it got to us.

No one stood on their doorsteps to clap the farmworkers here in the UK. It was good to clap the NHS workers because covid hit them hard. But for the farmworkers they had to keep going too. For those who supplied the hospitality industry many lost their jobs. Now people moan that no one wants to pick the fruit and veg that itinerant workers used to do; many of whom have stopped their travellings for a while because of various issues that are too much to go into in this post and would detract from what today is all about.

But actually as Joni Mitchel sang once “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” [Big Yellow Taxi – 1970] this is what happened with the farmworkers. No one realised what they did or how hard they worked, and often would moan about the “influx of foreigners” But those foreigners picked our fruit and veg. Now we are noticing with the war between Russia and Ukraine that much of Europe’s grain comes from Ukraine. Firstly did we really know that? How often do we take the time to work out where our food does come from? And second did we ever really appreciate those workers?

As with my friend, Eric, who works 48 weeks of the year, 6 days a week, we don’t give him or others like him a thought. We just expect milk to make it to our supermarkets/doorstep. And often in our way of not really knowing the hows and whys of things we can be critical of how farming is done, bemoan methods we know very little about.

Yes it would be great if all the milk cows could live in fields and all the food we need be grown without pesticides, but are we willing to pay those extra costs? Pay for the extra hours it takes to bring cows back and forth from fields? Support farmers and farmworkers if they made less on their crops?

I do go to the local farm shop, get my veg from Oddbox which takes the fruit and veg the supermarkets reject, have a milkman who delivers in glass bottles. But I also have a husband who earns a decent wage so we can afford all this.

But whether we buy from a cheap supermarket or an expensive farm shop how often do we think to appreciate all the work that has gone into growing our food? When we say “grace” do we think to not just thank God for our food but thank the people who worked hard to produce our food; who worked the land, dealt with weeds and pesticides, had aching muscles due to the physical side of their work, and all those other things that go on to produce our “daily bread”.

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Books borders and belonging enough Grace kindness

Borders & Belonging

Front cover of the book “Borders & Belonging” by Pádraig Ó Tuama and Glenn Jordan. As read by Diane Woodrow

I have just read this amazing book – Borders & Belonging” by Pádraig Ó Tuama and Glenn Jordan. It is about the book of Ruth and how it relates to our times. Our times being Brexit and, because they are both Irish, about the border between northern and southern Ireland. But for me it meant so much more.

They talk about how the story of Ruth tells how the law was changed through the actions of Ruth, which to me means God is saying that these “rules” we read in the Bible are not set in stone. The book of Ruth is read by the Jewish people every Shavuot, which corresponds with the Christian festival of Pentecost. Shavuot celebrates the spring harvest and comes 50 days after Passover. Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit to all people. Each year Jewish people remember, as well as the blessing of the spring harvest – which all who are gardeners know is so important as it comes at the end of the “hunger gap”, the time when there are just boring root veg that has survived over the winter – also remember this young woman from a despised tribe coming to their town and being accepted into their lineage and changing what was written in the Torah, which said that a Moabite cannot enter the nation of Israel. Yet at the end of her story we read that Ruth’s descendant is King David.

I think this is why she is included in Jesus’ lineage at the start of the Gospel Matthew – to show that Jesus came to remind us all that the law is not static, and I also think one of the reasons the Holy Spirit came on Shavuot is to show that again the law is not a static thing; that to follow God is not all about rules to follow but about grace and kindness.

As it says towards the end of “Borders & Belonging” “kindness is not constrained by rules” and that the law and traditions changed so that “kindness and grace is extended.” But how often are the “rules of Christianity” so fixed that kindness and grace are excluded? How many times have those in the LGBTQ community being told they are wrong and need healing? Or the young heterosexual couple who cannot afford to get married are told that they are wrong for wanting to live together? How many people feel they have to “clean up their act” before they can follow God?

How often do we, as church, hold on to the laws and traditions of our community because we think that is the right thing to do? When Boaz met with a man in front of the village elders who had, according to the Law, a stronger claim on the land that belonged to Ruth’s late husband, this unnamed man was willing to let go of that because he was afraid that his children would be outcasts as they could have been looked at as half Moabite, the despised tribe. As Pádraig says he was “willing to be poorer in order to be purer”. How often we do that – follow the right way but miss out on a bigger blessing because we weren’t able to share kindness and grace?

Interestingly around reading this I was on a long car journey and listened to a series of podcasts from Orphan No More, a community of Christians based in Bath, which were loosely based around the question of “do I have enough?”

Unless we can believe that we have “enough” I believe we cannot walk in kindness and grace. Am I willing to believe I have enough? Are you willing to believe it? Are we willing, during this Eastertide season to learn to walk more like Jesus – in kindness and grace?

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Brexit Grace mercy Uncategorized

Brexit

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve had lots to say but not been able to work out how to say it, or have had other outlets. But this morning it came together.

dsc_0630I was at church where things were really uplifting but I didn’t feel it. I have had a heaviness in my heart since Friday evening with the whole Brexit thing. I’m not saying how I voted but what makes me sad is that – here is a momentous occasion in our nation’s history and yet the country is divided and so doesn’t know what to do.  Yes there were some who did have parties to celebrate, but it definitely wasn’t half the country. There were some who were in major mourning but again not all those who voted remain. There were many who were just numbed by the length of time it took to get from a vote to a movement. To me there was a sense of apathy, numbness and fear of the unknown. There was a sense of not knowing how to react so as not to upset anyone one way or the other. In our house the B word cannot be uttered because of where the conversation goes.

But this morning whilst we were singing it all made sense. We finished our service with an old favourite: Shine, Jesus, Shine by Graham Kendrick. The chorus says it all for me:

Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the Father’s glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze
Set our hearts on fire
Flow, river, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth your word
Lord, and let there be light

The lines I have highlighted I sang with gusto and as a prayer, but especially the line “Flood this nation with grace and mercy.dsc_0621

My prayer was that I don’t care what you voted for and whether you regret it or are pleased about the result, all I pray is that each of us can go out with GRACE and MERCY to cover this land, to heal this land, to heal division. And then … no matter what happens we can stand together, build our identity as a nation built on GRACE and MERCY, walk out whatever the future has with GRACE and MERCY, look each other in the eye with GRACE and MERCY. Only then can we really become the nation that we were meant to be.

Surely whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Pagan, Jew or any other that I’ve missed you want to see peace in this land, see freedom in this land, to unity in this land. And that will only come about if each of us can be filled with GRACE and MERCY and give it away to those around us.

Categories
accepting boundaries Grace gratitude growing up honest

Leaving With Grace

DSCN0826 (1)I was a volunteer at a local restoration project. I was working very hard. I had reached a point where I was tired of doing it all for nothing. The Christian expression that a friend uses a lot is “the grace had gone”, which means the love, the joy, the being able to put the work at the castle first, not needing rewards apart from the joy of being, wasn’t there any more. It meant I was getting grouchy about it all and wanting to see wrong in it and everyone there. My husband said that it is psychologically proven that when people want to leave something – a job, project, relationship, town, etc – they find fault with it. But you see I didn’t want to leave not liking it there. I can see the castle from my study window. I also walk my dog in the grounds. I did not want to stop looking at it, stop going there, stop encouraging other people to go there. I didn’t want people to hear my bad mouthing it. So what to do?

Well, being a Christian, I spent a long time in prayer over how I would resign my post. Yes it wasn’t just that I was a volunteer but that I had a key post. I tried to not do anything and to say I was busy in the hope that they would get mad at me and ask me to leave. It didn’t work. It was time for me to grow up and take control. In the end I did manage to step down gracefully and leave as a friend. It does mean at times that I am called back to help – with events, with late evening lock ups, can still run my writing groups up there. It means I can still walk there, see the people involved and have a chat.

Then the other night I was at Dan Snow’s History Man event at a local theatre. At the end dan-snow-a5-2019-dates-lo-722x1024of every evening he always shares something on the local history of the area. Well one of the two places he picked was the castle where I used to volunteer. And he especially picked out the young man who runs the Trust and is the driving force in the restoration. Because I had left with grace and kindness, when I saw it and the things Dan Snow said about it my heart swelled with pride. Not because I had been a part of it but because I knew the person being honoured. I was proud of him. He is my friend. I was proud to hear him honoured. Proud that the place I used to be very involved in was one of only two places singled out in this area for Dan Snow to talk about. All this came about because I grew up and left with grace not with anger.

I am hoping I can take this onward as a life lesson for whatever I do next.

Categories
accepting adventure being me calling friendship glorifyingGod Grace life vision walking the dog

Knowing Your Calling

And it probably should say “and being comfortable in it.”

christian-denominationsThere is this thing, or maybe it’s just me, but I have found it in many Christian denominations – this sense of “calling”, of “ministry” of “doing something for God.” I have been there, done it, got the T-shirt, so to speak. I have also struggled when I have felt I am not doing “ministry” stuff.

I will share a bit of a conversation that I had today with a friend. We have known each other for about 13-14 years from a time when I was doing really amazing Christian article_discipleship_relationship-680x379ministry stuff; Youth With a Mission discipling, touring Europe and UK praying, setting up prayer groups, as well as home schooling my kids. I was doing the stuff. All I didn’t have at that point was a ministry title 🙂 And she was a newish Christian and finding her feet. I felt like I was discipling and encouraging her. I got married, Things changed. She found her feet and got connected in and encouraged. She has since got married. She is now out there doing the stuff. I must say I was nervous about talking to her today because I felt she was doing things I would love to be doing and that I would feel jealous that actually I didn’t want to talk for too long because I had a house to clean. Yes my focus has become housework. Something I never thought I would say. Anyway we got chatting and then she started to enthuse about the Healing on the Streets stuff and the prayer tent she is involved in. In fact her and her husband are leading these things. When she talked about the teams she talked about her teams. You know what? Suddenly, when she was saying how one knows one is anointed for something because you find the time and energy for it. Well something in me leaped. You know what excites me at the moment? Having a clean tidy house! And you know something? I notice now when there is a bit of dust, pet hair, smudge on the sink! Yes I now notice those things!! But that is because, for this season, my calling is to keep house.

6431-wifehusbandroles
Say Moi! 🙂 

Well that was so exciting. I have been journeying on this for a while, but especially since we have started to settle here. I have been churning over whether I should be getting paid work; whether I should be joining groups, starting CWTP groups, doing stuff, and just keep coming back to the fact that I am content walking my dog, doing a bit of writing, keeping up with emailing friends, and cleaning my house and being home to welcome my guests and also my husband. Each time I’ve felt like going off to do I’ve felt uncomfortable which is odd because I have been teased often for rushing about and doing things. Now that is not the case. Not that I have loads of extra time because I am finding all this housework that needs doing. It does mean that when dear Ian gets home often I am tired because I have done a lot of physical stuff but I am not stressed. So tired but not dumping on him. As my friend said – you know when it’s your calling because you have the energy for it, or as another friend said – you know when you are doing what God has for you because you have the Grace. Both really saying the same thing.

So I came off the phone feeling similar to how I had years ago when we had moved to a aid82011-728px-decide-if-your-friend-is-a-true-friend-step-05place of equality; where we had become true friends. I found the whole experience interesting because it made me see how we can so spoil what we are meant to do by trying to be someone else. And also where we have put this whole thing up of what is doing and what isn’t. Have I, like her, waited years to do this? Not the cleaning and the not going to meet with people. No! Do I want to do this forever? Well the way I’m feeling at the moment, Yes! But that is just that God has me where He wants me doing what I am called to do. I might not be able to write cool newsletters about it but I am here doing what I’m called to. And actually what, I think, we often forget with the whole walk with God is that we are meant to do what He has called us to and not send out cool prayer letters. We have to stop striving for the noticeable “ministry” positions and walk our walk as He directs. I am more than capable of doing what my friend is doing but it would be wrong to be doing it now. And I am sure she is more than capable of doing what I’m doing. Although when I mentioned that she laughed so maybe she isn’t.

grace2bmoving2bin2bgod2527sDoes what she do mean she needs more of God than me, or visa versa? No! We both needs God and to walk out this journey with Him as He called us. And then to help others walk out their calling in Him as they are meant to be.