The Benedictines have for many years put into practice a way of living lightly on the soil as a co-creator with God. Their reverence for the land, and the way it ticks, has a lot of good philosophies that we would benefit from re-learning.
Having recently read Sister Joan Chittister’s book “The Monastery of the Heart” we were very taken by how the knowledge to live sustainably from the land is all there, but in our modern fast culture the simplicity of it is just being overlooked.
The great thing is we can all play a part, and do it, within caring parameters, in our own unique way. As she says “We are co-creators with God of what creation has left unfinished. What has been left in embryo is left for us to develop. What can be developed God trusts us to bring to full potential. But not for ourselves alone, to continue the work of God on Earth, requires us to tend the land and conserve the waters, to till the garden and protect the animals, to use the things of the earth in ways that enhance all life now— and preserve them for later generations, as well.”
I love this invitation for us to be co-creators. We have applied this principle on our farm, observing what grows well on our downland location, and have developed the forest garden that suits our needs, our guests’ needs, and works for our soil and location. This is farming that is shared with others, and is good for the environment. This invitation to be co-creators we are applying to much, much more. We love the idea of being a steward who is allowed a lot of latitude from a good Father that delights in our work.
The Benedictines for over 1500 years have recognised “the symphony of life forms that depend on one another to bring the universe, pulsing and throbbing with life, to a wholeness that is mutual, that reflects the full face of God rather than simply our own.”
Using the Benedictine principles the aim is to leave wherever we live — our neighborhoods, our oceans, our forests and our soil— in better condition than they were before we came. It sounds so simple. And to a certain degree it is. If we each take personal responsibility to add to our community and to learn to care for what we steward, its surprising how much difference we can all make. It could be as simple as reducing plastic, flying less or sharing lifts. If our gardens, parkland, or even window-boxes could aid the environment and we leave our own part of the planet better than when we arrived then we’ve helped to be part of the solution.
Benedictines over the centuries turned arid
land green, dried the swamps so they would flourish, and hired the local people
and taught them new skills.
In Europe they helped to sustain entire populations by producing everything from food and clothing to beer.
When looking for solutions it is worth looking backwards, to the days before plastic, chemicals and supermarkets. How did those in the know sustain themselves without modern conveniences? In this respect we feel the Benedictines are one of the pioneers of best practices.