How does my
stubborn quietness become
a quietness of heart
peace of things
is trudging unknown
only knowing want of rest.
The other is life.
though walking this earth all the same.
So often, I find myself at a loss for words. Not even the best words, the ones that communicate something from deep within and meet a need, but plain, fitting words. Quiet is good, but when it makes others feel unwelcome, I question its helpfulness.
This loss of words is probably one of the reasons why it’s taken me so long to write on here. I won’t check for the exact number, but there are probably twenty or thirty drafts that were never posted- starts and beginnings that never accomplished what I thought they should.
And conversationally, it’s the same story. Talks where I’ve spoken much and forgotten myself are rare birds.
I think it’s OK. I don’t quite know why it is the case, but it is what it is. There are seasons for just about everything, and my ask, or prayer, is that what is to be done in, and with, this time would be.
Father, creator, if this time is intended to allow me to notice You more than I notice myself, might your grace allow me to do that.
If my lips are to be loosened, might I find that through you.
If I’m to grow closer to whatever is worth speaking, open my heart and mind to those things.
If I’m totally off the mark, well, I give that to You too.
It’s impossible to say how many cultures there are on Earth. Lines of division blur, the sheer number of people groups make accuracy impossible and the dynamic nature of societies presents a moving target. What can be said, however, is that distinct social systems are disappearing as trends in globalization indicate shifts toward homogenization.
Which is progress, right? A simpler world is easier to handle. It’s especially helpful if cultures have much to offer—political and religious freedom, career opportunities for economic security, civil infrastructure to protect the safety and rights of humans, so on and so forth. These are conceptions often thought to be inherent in Western societies.
The prolific and enigmatic 20th century environmentalist, David Brower, compressed four and a half billion years of Earth’s history and that of its inhabitants into Genesis’ six-day creation. When that time frame is considered, it isn’t until 4:00 p.m. on the last day that dinosaurs walk the Earth. By 9:00 p.m., these dinosaurs are extinct. At 11:57 p.m., humans appear on the scene. Jesus is born forty-five seconds later. The Industrial Revolution occurs 1/40th of a second before midnight. Since this moment of innovation, more resources have been extracted and consumed than by the rest of the people who’ve ever lived combined.
Brower states, “There are people who think what we’ve been doing for the last fraction of a second can continue indefinitely. They are considered reasonable people, but they are stark raving mad!”
Humans have existed for an awful long time, yet it wasn’t until recently they began to alter the planet and its ecological balances as significantly and seriously as they do now. It’s no coincidence that 95 percent of the areas identified by the World Wildlife Fund Global 200 as harboring exceptional biodiversity are home to indigenous peoples. This isn’t to paint pre-industrial societies as utopian. Survival entails struggle, and bouts of starvation and disease aren’t to be considered lightly. Today, we think we have answers for these. We think we have answers for everything. We’ve essentially circumvented natural selection. But despite—or perhaps due to—this feat, creation groans.
Lack of clean water, food, medicine and decent sanitation threaten many today. This is well understood. The solution cannot, however, be to bring all into the same conditions that we as Westerners live in today. This “flourishing” is literally impossible, as it would require four Earths to support the world’s population living as Americans, as according to the Global Footprint Network. Developing technology is often brought up as an answer, but gambling on things that do not, and may not exist, may not be the wisest or most responsible choice,especially as it is in our collective power now to make changes with positive repercussions among humanity and creation.
We must lower our conception of ourselves to the point where we can consider that necessary changes, developments and the shaping of lives very well might ask the transformation of ourselves as much as it does others. How do we use technology responsibly? How do we love, interact with and learn from those who live differently than us? And, most importantly, and possibly all encompassing, how do we humble ourselves before God, and find ourselves back in the correct order of creation? We have been given much. We are responsible for much. And for the many cultures, perspectives and ideologies, we are thankful. We have a lot to learn.
Indigenous and Traditional Peoples of the World and Ecoregion Conservation (p. 28,Publication). (2000). Gland, Switzerland: WWF International- Terralingua.
Note: I wrote this quick little article for Spring Arbor’s student paper. Between the day that I submitted it, and the day that it was posted, this took place:
The Prominent Environmental Activist Berta Cáceres Has Been Assassinated in Honduras
I’m lying on my back in bed right now. 2:50pm, Sunday afternoon. I feel the weight of obligation in my shoulders, and the tenseness of a mind on edge.
I laid on a bed feeling this same way a few years ago in Bolivia. I was taking online classes, and was in the middle of a philosophy course. I loved the subject, but poured myself into it heavily, and found myself lying on a bed, on my back, uneasily.
I was on vacation with my Dad. He and I were spending a few days in the old colonial town of Sucre. Whitewashed buildings, cobblestone roads, typical Latin American plazas. I remember a teacher’s union striking, and their march through the streets. I also remember stumbling upon the right music through my headphones at that time when I was lying on the bed. I listened to some songs that brought back a sense of clarity and stillness- a sense that things were right and it was good to be alive. I think I fell asleep.
And awoke to my alarm. Which meant it was time to head out to town for the evening. We walked through the open-air hotel corridors and into the night, took in the fresh air, and roamed the streets until we found a hole in the wall worth eating at. I remember the meal (stuffed steak, possibly the finest thing I’ve ever eaten). I remember thinking about the European backpackers who came in. I remember pondering the philosophy texts I had been poring over. I remember just being there with my Dad. And it was so good.
So good to simply be there, in Bolivia, with him. And to think that earlier that afternoon, I had had a tired mind, as I do now.
Or did, I guess. It feels more like thankfulness now. And hope. And looking forward.
The plane drifted in its slow-motion descent, but once we’d touched down, I moved even slower. Making way through the small modern airport, I glanced up in time to notice what seemed to be old-world wooden accents. A man, his daughter and their dog greeted me from the luggage bay. I collected my belongings and we walked out into the first piece of Alaska I’d ever know- a parking lot.
The first thing noticed was the sheer number of Subarus and Toyotas, as well as bumper stickers to match. They looked like they’d been places; as if they’d seen more than asphalt and tar. The second thing noticed was the light. It was eleven P.M. The air was heavy and sky was shaded deeply, but it was certainly still awake. It seemed to me a junction between two states, and I had to ask whether the sun was about to set or about to rise.
It hadn’t yet set. In fact, nearly a month and a half later I have yet to see the night sky. But I hear it comes. I hear it comes with a seeming permanence, and brings with it a halt to the summer rush. I hear folks spend more time inside, Blaze Kings ® blaze longer, books grow thicker, and skis and dogs, sometimes together, fly trails like you can only imagine. The time is full, but its fullness is of a different sort than that of the summer. It almost sounds to me like a time of rest. Fallow, if you will.
Over the winter, Calypso’s soils seem to be dormant. This period allows for future vitality. Things are going on, however. It’s more than inaction. This distinction is patterned in the pace of some of our activities here in the Farmer Training Program, while others mimic a different pace. We can be found working our hands into soil, reflecting on readings, tearing down trees, building up buildings, etc. There is time alone, and there are times of community. Some moments are frenzied, others are meditative. The sun heats. The cold bites. And, as with the plants that thrive in the fields after having been hardened by their intentional removal from the singular set of greenhouse conditions that they’ve known, we’re bettered by the contrasts.
This evening, most of us have returned to our respective abodes. Solstice comes in two weeks, and with it slowly will come darker nights. Rain falls and dings on the roof- a living stillness. I rest my head on my pillow and am drawn to think about what comes next. What will June of next year look like? I have to remind myself, though, that I’m here now, and here for a reason, and when I’m there, I’ll be there for a reason.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
Thirteen Stars on an Ink-Smudged Page (June 19th, 2015)
Last night I wrote down thirteen bulleted phrases. It was my weekend to do list.
This morning, however, I heard from a friend, and her words prompted me to add one more. Albeit more a reminder than task, at the very top the words were added, “Everything in Light of What’s Most Important”. With that in mind, the list read much differently.
Some tasks were removed in total. Others were reworked and reoriented. Without exception, all were put into perspective.
Part of the Farmer Training Program consists of a Whole Farm Planning exercise. Throughout this process, we’ve been encouraged to think not only about potential production methods, farm locations, and resources that might be available, but also about bigger questions.
These bigger questions, ranging from visions of what a better world might look like, to unique aspirations within one’s own individual life, have the effect of reorienting our specific farming ideas to deeper drives and currents that are easy to lose track of in what can be busy, tumultuous times.
Beyond that, I myself am thankful simply for the space to work out those ideas. Taking the time to reflect on not just what one can and might do, but why one might do so has the possibility of not only affecting future choices and actions, or even the decisions of that very day, but the lens that one sees the world with that very moment, or so I’ve found.
I’ve found a lot of things on this farm and amongst our community to be very humbling. So much to learn. So much to do. This reminder, intentionally worked into our curriculum, has served, possibly beyond its intended use, to put myriad ideas, opportunities and convictions in the right place. For me, a restless one, this is important. Less frantic action, more moving forward. Aiming not only to do things, and not only to do things well, but aiming instead to do the right things well.
He would pull a chain on a broken clock and a small door would
Swing open and an ornate little bird would sing to him until he
Understood the bird mechanical and had no song to sing
And it was only himself pulling a chain and his
Hand had grown weary and after
That he only pined for, while resting, legs crossed,
A bird crashing his window crowing, "I want you."
Bottoms out at 213
FC@ 380, 13:44
Pull at 402, 17:30
Rd is 3 min 50 sec
Too long a roast! Next time open cyclone, close airflow. Appearance: average SF
roast. Tastes like it too, although slightly bitter, not as exciting.
Bottoms at 213, 1:55
Open cyclone was bad choice! Beans lost.
FC@ 381, 11:49, opened air a bit more to prolong RD.
Pull at 402, 14:53
Unbelievable. Lost half batch?
Better timing. Stick with orig plan. First roast always long?
Look good. Taste more exciting. Only slight, slight bitter trace.
Bottoms at 207, 2:03
Cyclone half, air duct open so you can hear.
Bread strong at 346, 9:40
FC@ 380, 13:00
Air already flowing a bit. Left as is.
Pull at 403, 16:29
Look good, taste pretty good; sugars, oils, acids could be better.
Leaving bean gate closed cyclone at half. Hoping for shorter roast time with no
Bottoms at 203, 2:14 (forgot to raise heat after dumping last batch.)
FC@ 383, 12:17
Pull at 402, 15:08
Slightly light for profile, but look good. Taste great. Lasting, sweet, have good
crack of flavor to them.
Keeping bean gate closed, cyclone at half.
Bottoms at 211, 1:25
FC@ 382, 12:05
Pull at 403, 15:16
Some days ago, I wrote that the first roast log would be arriving soon. It took longer than expected. There were a few false starts. I’d get something down, and a morning later it wouldn’t sit well with me. Finally, pen swiped paper in the right way, and I liked it. I had written something I liked.
On biblical interpretation.
Oh well. It was on my mind, so fair enough- it was going on here. I folded it up, stuck it in an envelope, gave it to a young woman named Hadley for safekeeping, and took off for Switzerland. Details are fuzzy, and involve a train station and a briefcase, but I never saw it again.
Or something like that. The important thing is that it’s gone, so in the interest of getting something, anything, down, here are some cut-up thoughts. For you.
I’m fascinated by collectives, and the arts, and culture, and spirituality. I’m fascinated by their intersection. I don’t have much interest in coffee in a sterile, industrial context, but when I consider roasting in terms of the aforementioned, I get excited. I get excited to learn, to study and craft and excited in knowing that I can, and will, do that this very day. I imagine my heart rate goes up, and I smile much more easily.
I used to give myself pause in writing certain things for thought of not having enough to offer. I thought you had to have a complete picture and understanding, and your work would carefully expound that understanding, and feed it to whoever was reading. That style though… That belongs to technical manuals- the least imaginable works around. They may be practical, but they’re better known for putting men to sleep than waking readers up.
Now, I work through things as I write, aware but not threatened by my lack of grasp or understanding. And I tell you, regardless of whether or not it wakes any readers up- it’s good for my soul.
A few mornings ago I had my best roasting experience to date. The mountain valleys dark green, and ranges beyond grayer as distance increased. Selective mists coupled with the morning light made the scene surreal. Every “walk to daylight” while checking roast progression was beautiful.
And what I heard… Normally, here at Sandra Farms, roasting is accompanied by the sounds of beans tumbling in the drum and the faint whirring of mechanization. This is what many roasters prefer. When asked what music they listen to while roasting, about three quarters of the competitors profiled in 2013’s World Roasting Championship revealed that they never listened to music while roasting. Auditory cues can be very important, such as in detecting first crack, and music can be awfully distracting.
And worth it. If you’ve driven in a car with me, you probably know how stubborn I can be in my insistence upon listening to music. This morning was no different.
1.) Phosphorescent- Song for Zula
2.) Red Tail Ring- Katy Came Breezing
3.) Isaac Joel- Take Care Of
4.) Propaganda- Forgive Me For Asking
Six batches were roasted that morning, many milestones were reached on target, the smell of slight caramelization unparalleled. All of this to say- it was quite nice.
Unfortunately, as of 10/22/14 or so, my phone is kaput. I’m not sure if I’m going to try and work something out to get another or not, but in the meantime, I’m sorry for not responding to texts or calls. I haven’t received them. I can still be reached by email or correo.
On the other hand, I’m looking forward to sharing some words and stories from time spent here. Expect the first “ROAST LOG” soon.