by Fr. Thomas J. Fehr

Times for planting and harvesting vary by crop, but we typically associate spring with planting and fall with harvesting.   This time of year, there are all kinds of harvest festivals.  Well at the Good Earth Farm, we follow that pattern too (for the most part).  There are some short season crops, second plantings, etc.  We even had a harvest festival ourselves!

Food is grown to be sure, but that really isn’t the main crop we grow.  We first and foremost grow relationships; relationships with our God, ourselves, our religious community, our larger community and with the creation itself.

The seed of my relationship with the Common Friars was planted in late winter, but to stay consistent with the metaphor of planting and harvesting, let’s call it early spring!  It was then that I received an invitation to consider some connection to the community.  For a while, that seed lay dormant in the cold soil.  That’s a pretty common experience of seeds.  They never sprout spontaneously.  It takes a while and oftentimes some care for them to sprout.  God took very good care of this seed, and it shot up through the crusted soil when I was on retreat at the farm in April.

What had been an interesting intellectual pursuit became a matter of heart and soul on that retreat when God decided to personally issue the invitation to consider what my connection with the Common Friars was meant to be, but the invitation was much more specific than that; God was inviting me to consider becoming an actual member of the community

A bit of personal history:  Though I first felt called to ordained priesthood in 1977 during my freshman year in college and was ordained a priest after a long journey on June 20, 2009, I have always said I would never be a part of a religious community.  So, when on this retreat, I began feeling a real connection with the Common Friars, I knew that any idea to consider becoming a part of the community was not my idea but God’s.

Over the course of the last six months, the Common Friars and I have been in a discernment process to determine if God was calling us into a deeper relationship.  More specifically, we were discerning whether or not God was calling me to live in the community as a postulant and to continue discerning my place within the community.

This discernment was a lot like raising a crop, especially one raised by organic methods.  Organic growing methods draw you into a deep relationship with the earth and the crops planted in it.  Every action from watering to weeding, to mulching, to dealing with insects, to harvest, is a faithful act of relationship with what you are growing, with your fellow workers in the field, with those who will eat the produce of the land, and with God.  Much of that work is done on one’s knees, a very common position for prayer.  Indeed all of our work is prayer and is done in God’s great cathedral of nature.  

Our discernment involved both prayer and care.  My twice monthly visits allowed time for both.  We worked side by side on the farm and in the house.  We came together for shared meals around the dinner table and the Lord’s Table.  We prayed and worshiped together.  We shared ideas and stories.  We had fun together.

Good discernment yields only good fruit.  It is not simply a matter of deciding what path is right as if all other options were wrong.  It is about choosing what’s best.  It is a matter of deciding where God is calling.  If you follow God’s calling, then you are making the right choice no matter what it is.  As I write this, we are upon the day of harvest.  We are confident of a good crop for there has been such care and prayer in our discernment.  Whatever the harvest, it will be blue ribbon, prize winning and record breaking! 

You are one of our companions along the way.  We depend on your help in the field.  Won’t you join us in God’s harvest?  It is a harvest of abundance.  Let’s not leave any of it in the field!

Fr. Thomas J. Fehr is Assistant to the Rector at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Granville, OH and a friend of the Good Earth Farm.

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